Lao People’s Democratic Republic Returning Migrants Survey #2: Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) – 26 June to 5 September 2020 [EN/LO]


Labour migration is one of the most important livelihood options for the Lao workforce. It was estimated that 0.9 million Lao nationals lived abroad in 2019. The most common destination country for Lao migrants is Thailand, where they are mostly employed in domestic work, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and entertainment work. Historically, most of them moved irregularly across borders, either on their own or through informal brokers who transported them and organized employment. Today, many still lack legal status.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, more than 200,000 Lao migrants are reported to have crossed the border from Thailand to Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The economic shock due to COVID-19 is adversely impacting the flow of remittances and could push as much as 214,000 people into poverty. Around 9 per cent of households receive remittances from abroad, and remittances constitute 60 per cent of their household income. This implies a significant reduction in recipient household income. The loss of livelihoods for migrants have left many to be vulnerable to exploitation and some have found themselves compelled into employment or accommodation with conditions that increase their exposure to COVID-19 and other diseases, as well as increase their vulnerability and susceptibility to exploitation.

Since April 2020, the Skills Development and Employment Department (SDED), Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare accepted the support and assistance from IOM to respond to COVID-19, specifically in the areas of 1) Coordination and Partnership, 2) Risk Communication and Community Engagement, and 3) Surveillance.

This report highlights the impact of COVID-19 on returning Lao migrants. The wave of returning migrants is likely to alter the local economic landscape, as more than 50 per cent of surveyed returning migrants indicated they have no plans to leave Lao People’s Democratic Republic for work again or are not sure of their plans. About 36 per cent were willing to upskill for better opportunities.


Source: International Organization for Migration

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