Vulnerable Groups and COVID-19: Challenges of Migrant Workers

Vulnerable Groups and COVID-19: Challenges of Migrant Workers

Migrant workers are another section of the population that has been hit the hardest by COVID-19. The pandemic has shed more light on the conditions low-income workers who work in construction, agriculture, delivery, and other essential services face. Many of these jobs must be performed in person and are necessary to keep society functioning.

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened conditions for an already vulnerable subset of the population. In the following slides, we highlight three hardships that migrant workers throughout Asia have experienced in the last year.

At the beginning of the pandemic, dozens of Malaysian migrant workers in Singapore had to sleep in front of Kranji MRT Station, due to travel restrictions that prevented them from making the commute between the two countries.

Coordination between national agencies and local authorities has resulted in confusion and delays for migrant workers returning home. At one point thousands of people were stuck in a Manila baseball stadium as they awaited clearance to return to their home provinces.

In the spring of 2020. Bambang Soesatyo, the People’s Consultative Assembly Speaker in Indonesia, petitioned the government for pandemic assistance to help migrant workers return home from Malaysia. Since then, thousands of workers who have lost their jobs have returned.


Aminuddin, M Faishal, Pallikadavath, Saseendran, et al. “Indonesian families struggle as pandemic cuts $1.5bn from the money migrant workers send home.” The Conversation.  November 19, 2020.

Awang, Nabilah. “With no place to stay, some Malaysian workers sleeping rough near Kranji MRT Station.” Today Online. March 19, 2020.

Lopez, Eloisa. “Thousands of stranded Filipinos crammed into baseball stadium amid coronavirus risks.” Reuters. July 25, 2020.

Wahyuni, Natasia Christy and Sihaloho, Markus Junianto. “Indonesia Repatriates Nearly 70,000 Migrant Workers From Malaysia.” Jakarta Globe. April 30, 2020.

Coronavirus, COVID-19