Tuesday

27th Feb 2024

EU's migrants more at risk from coronavirus

  • Stockholm: Sweden has among the highest rate of foreign-born residents in EU (Photo: Arild)

Europe's migrant population - including EU nationals seeking to better themselves in the richer north and west - are more at risk of catching coronavirus or suffering poverty due to the pandemic, a new study says.

Migrants are twice as likely as natives to catch the virus because many of them work in frontline sectors, such as healthcare, the hospitality industry, retail, delivery, and household services, according to a study by the Paris-based club of wealthy nations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

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They live in more crowded homes and neighbourhoods, the study noted.

And they had "a disproportionate incidence of death even in countries with universal access to treatment for Covid-19", Stefano Scarpetta, an OECD official in charge of labour and employment, said.

Migrants made up 24 percent of doctors and 16 percent of nurses in the 36 OECD countries, which include most EU member states, as well as some far-flung nations, such as Mexico, Japan, and the US.

Many worked on temporary contracts and were the first ones who were being fired in the pandemic-related downturn, especially in southern Europe, Ireland, and Sweden.

They also faced a heightened danger of racism and xenophobia as jobs became scarce, the OECD warned.

The risk came despite the fact migration had, overall, slumped by 46 percent in the first six months of 2020 due to corona-linked travel bans.

And the slow-down also meant households in southern and eastern EU states, as well as ones in the EU neighbourhood, faced a drop in remittances.

Looking around the OECD's EU members, Austria and Sweden had the highest rates of foreign-born residents in their populations - on 19 percent.

Austria's foreigners mostly came from other EU states and the Western Balkans, while Sweden's came from Afghanistan and Syria.

Belgium (17 percent), Germany (16 percent), Spain (14 percent), France (13 percent) and the Netherlands (13 percent) also had high rates.

Most of their foreign residents were from easterly and southern EU states or from Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, and Latin American countries.

Ireland (17 percent), a financial services centre, was an anomaly, with high numbers of American and Chinese residents.

Luxembourg, another financial centre, was even more unusual, with a 46 percent foreign-born rate.

Meanwhile, the two EU states with the most xenophobic and Islamophobic governments - Hungary and Poland - had among the lowest rates, with 6 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Many of their migrants came from fellow Christian country Ukraine.

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