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Spotlight on International Migrants Day

As the world marks the United Nations' International Migrants Day (18th December), we share three ways Open University research recognises and attempts to overcome the challenges people moving across borders, especially those who migrate by necessity, face.

Enhancing migrant children's lives

In November 2021, Professor Sarah Crafter's inaugural lecture explored what it means for children and young people to be 'brokers of care' in the context of migration.

Earlier in the year, the Professor of Cultural-Developmental Psychology also secured EU funding for a research project aiming to enhance the lives of migrant children and young people in education. The Networking the Education World: Across Boundaries for Community-building (NEW ABC) project, funded by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme, brings together 14 partners across nine countries to develop pilot schemes and address specific linguistic, cultural, social, emotional, and challenges that children and young people face in education, or when they don't have access to the system.

Exploring migrants' experience of the coronavirus pandemic

The fear and uncertainty of confinement during the coronavirus pandemic was a new experience for many of us. However, long periods of restrictive movement are sadly too familiar for people fleeing persecution and war.

Professor of Sociology, Marie Gillespie, led an interdisciplinary group of advocates and researchers to give a voice to displaced people whose situations were made even more challenging during the pandemic. The COVID19: Chronicles from the Margins project investigated how diverse migrant groups such as asylum-seekers, refugees, migrant workers and undocumented people responded to COVID-19. From March 2020 to June 2021, people from more than 22 countries shared their experience through over 1,000 poems, songs, music, photos, short videos, written testimonies, diaries and artwork.

Watch a video of the project:

Exposing pandemic inequalities

Professor of Social Policy Nicola Yeates' 2021 research found migrant health and social care workers bore a disproportionate burden of the coronavirus pandemic and faced the highest risk of harm or death.

The study estimated more than 36,000 health care workers had died worldwide from COVID-19 – the first estimate of its kind. Yeates conducted the research with Public Services International (PSI), a global federation of trade unions representing 30 million public service health workers across 154 countries. The study also found migrant workers had disproportionately poor access to vital safety equipment, such as PPE and necessary training, and had faced increased violence and harassment during the pandemic.

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