IOM Appeals for Funding to Scale Up Assistance to Vulnerable Migrants Amid the COVID-19 Crisis in South Caucasus

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia share significant vulnerabilities and needs in fostering migrant-inclusive response to the COVID-19 crisis, including supporting migrants in vulnerable situations while mitigating the expected socio-economic impact of the pandemic on highly migration-dependent populations. The countries of the South Caucasus host hundreds of thousands of migrants in regular and irregular situations predominantly from Central Asia, but also from the Syrian Arab Republic, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and countries of South-East Asia and West Africa. Due to both real and perceived legal precarity of both regular and irregular migrants, as well as regulatory and practical barriers, they are less likely to seek health services, including getting tested for COVID-19. It is critical to ensure that information on risks an recommendations reach migrant communities in a timely manner and in a language they understand. It is key to identify the most vulnerable amongst the migrant population, assess their needs and provide emergency relief where critically needed, provide counselling, as well as assistance to those who wish to return to their countries of origin. Furthermore, a large proportion of the population in the South Caucasus relies on income facilitated by mobility — remittances sent by family members working abroad and income from circular or seasonal migration frequently form a livelihood strategy. This income has been severely diminished or interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to official statistics capturing formal COVID-19 repatriation channels under the auspices of governments, nearly 10,000 Georgian migrants, over 63,000 Armenian migrants, and over 10,000 Azerbaijani migrants returned to the South Caucasus since the beginning of the crisis. Mass returns, however, bring migrants back to communities characterized by economic insecurity in the form of chronic underemployment and unemployment and lack of access to economic opportunities. It is critical to mitigate the socio-economic impacts on and create new livelihood opportunities for local mobility-dependent population across the South Caucasus.

IOM Georgia jointly with IOM Armenia and IOM Azerbaijan are requesting USD 3.725 m in line with IOM’s Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) to support the Governments in South Caucasus in supporting vulnerable migrants and mobility-dependent communities between February and December 2020. The plans described in the Appeal span diverse areas of work: coordination and partnerships, risk communication and community engagement, disease surveillance, point of entry, protection, displacement tracking, as well as logistics, procurement and supply chain management, corresponding to existing IOM capacities and expertise in the region.

Download IOM South Caucasus COVID-19 Response Appeal

For more information please contact Karolina Krelinova at

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities