Situational Brief: Perspective On Migrants’ Right To Health In Latin America During Covid-19 Protecting Migrants Or Reversing Migration? Covid-19 And The Risks Of A Protracted Crisis In Latin America

Central and South American countries have experienced an unprecedented flow of refugees and migrants with an estimated 5 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants and half a million from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras fleeing to neighbouring countries since 2015 (1,2). Forced migration in these countries is associated with high levels of violence, ‘femicide’, political persecution, severe human rights violation and poverty (3). This situation raises important questions about crisis-stricken societies and calls upon governments in the region, as well as regional and multilateral organisations, to examine relevant policiesto protect refugees and migrants. This is even more pressing in the context of COVID-19. COVID19 is an era-defining challenge to inclusive global health governance. A government’s preparedness and response to health emergencies has the power to redress or reproduce vulnerabilities and inequalities. Governments should adopt policiesthat safeguard the right to health of migrants and refugees regardless of their legal status, as per Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In order to do so, they should be guided by international agreements that protect the rights of the most vulnerable and should not engage in populist politics that demonise or scapegoat specific groups such as migrants. The international community has a role to play in encouraging states to behave responsibly and uphold their global commitments to ‘leave no one behind’.