Just Emergencies Episode 15: Covid-19 and the Migrant Crisis

Trailer Refugee Camp

In episode 15 of the Just Emergencies podcast, Dr Arianne Shahvisi (twitter:@ArianneShahvisi) talks about Covid-19 and the Migrant Crisis.

Though the majority of us have not travelled freely since the beginning of the pandemic, refugees and asylum seekers continue to risk their lives to enter, for example, the UK. Crowded living conditions in refugee camps and difficult to navigate health systems make refugees and asylum seekers particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 and its effects.

Dr. Shahvisi argues that rather than framing the crisis as an issue of borders and security, we need to think about how wealthy countries such as the UK contribute(d) to the mass migration of refugees in the first place. This move, unfortunately, was not made during the Covid-19 pandemic, where we’ve seen the rise of vaccine nationalism and not enough regard for the pandemic’s impact on the Global South.

I think in some ways, tackling the pandemic has made people even less open and generous in how they think about the other forms of suffering in the world.

In the beginning of this, I would have liked to have thought that we’d have learnt some lessons. I don’t see that we have at this point.

In response, academics can and should play a vital advocacy role in changing this narrative, in cutting through misinformation, and in informing the public on what’s actually going on.

Listen to the full episode or read the transcript

Links and Resources

Free University Brighton

Kan, A, ‘What is ‘vaccine nationalism’ and why is it so harmful?‘, (ALJAZEERA, 7 February, 2021).

Godin, M, ‘COVID-19 Outbreaks Are Now Emerging in Refugee Camps. Why Did it Take so Long For the Virus to Reach Them?‘, (Time, 9 October, 2020)

Alemi, Q et al., ‘Refugees and COVID-19: achieving a comprehensive public health response‘, (2020) Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, 98.

United Nations Refugee Agency, ‘Figures at a Glance‘, (2020).

Este, J, Europe won’t resolve the ‘migrant crisis’ until it faces its own past’, (The Conversation, 1 September 2015).


‘Just Emergencies’ is produced and edited by Rebecca Richards and made with funding from the Wellcome Trust.

Our intro song is ‘The sun comes up, I come down’ by Silicon Transmitter.

Our outro song is ‘Surge and Swell’ by Pictures of the Floating World.

Both are available under an Attribution-Noncommerical-ShareAlike3.0 Creative Commons License from Free Music Archive.

Image by Julie Ricards on Unsplash.