From 11 to 22 January 2021, IOM surveyed 316 Myanmar migrants in the Mae Sot district of Tak province in order to better understand their situation and vulnerabilities following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Thailand. The survey focuses on six thematic areas: 1) Migrant profiles; 2) Drivers of migration; 3) Employment; 4) Impacts of COVID-19; 5) COVID-19 related vulnerabilities; and 6) Return intentions.
Key findings include the following:
Forty-two per cent of the respondents reported being unemployed at the time of interview. Among this sample, over a third cited COVID-19 as the reason for their unemployment.
Among the sample of employed respondents, 41 per cent reported reduced working hours since the outbreak of COVID-19 and 39 per cent reported earning less than before COVID-19. Only 23 per cent of employed respondents reported earning equal to or above the provincial minimum wage in Tak at the time of interview.
Fourteen per cent of the migrants surveyed reported having faced challenges at the workplace. The most frequently reported workplace challenges included psychological stress and being paid below minimum wage.
Only 38 per cent of migrants reported being aware of available support mechanisms in case of problems at the workplace. However, over two-thirds of migrants who experienced workplace challenges sought support. Reasons for not seeking support included not being aware of support actors, being fearful of repercussions and being fearful of deportation.
When asked about changes to their financial situation since the outbreak of COVID-19, 41 per cent of respondents stating having less income and facing financial challenges and 6 per cent of respondents stating having lost all sources of income. Eighty-two per cent of migrants reported that over the past month they had worried about not having enough food to eat due to the consequences of COVID-19 and over a quarter of the respondents have made significant reductions to their food consumption due to the economic consequences of COVID-19. The most commonly reported challenges since the outbreak of COVID-19 were not having enough income, psychological stress and debt. Over half of the sample surveyed reported being in debt at the time of interview.
Thirty per cent of respondents reported receiving assistance related to COVID-19 challenges. Among migrants who received assistance, 77 per cent stated receiving assistance from NGOs, CBOs and the UN, 47 per cent reported receiving assistance from religious organizations, 15 per cent received assistance from the Thai government and 13 per cent reported receiving assistance from family and friends in Thailand.
Among migrants who sent remittances home prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, 88 per cent reported that the amount of money they remit has now changed. Among this sample, 46 per cent of respondents reported remitting less than before and 54 per cent reported no longer sending any remittances at all.