"Migrants need to be included in the recovery phase of the pandemic, and it is vital to include them in local planning processes. Solidarity is necessary to regain prosperity."
Maimunah Mohd Sharif,
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN-Habitat
"Cutting down on service provision to overcome the crisis is the worst possible idea and will deeply affect migrants’ living conditions."
Emilia Saiz,
UCLG Secretary General
"Tomorrow we will no longer talk about migrants are being treated in the same way in the face of the pandemic."
Mohamed Boudra,
Mayor of Al-Hoceima and President of UCLG
"Grenoble is an open city with an integrating philosophy that enables migrants to benefit from the local community through citizenship actions, access to participatory budgets, citizens' councils, housing sports and cultural activities."
Eric Piolle,
Mayor of Grenoble
"Containment measures are being implemented, but unfortunately the most vulnerable groups are at high risk. Our focus has been around sanitary measures. We need to work with the central government on this particularly challenging dimension of the pandemic."
Souad Abderrahim,
Mayor of Tunis
"We have been providing emergency responses to the most urgent needs of migrants - before the COVID-19 outbreak and now in the context of quarantine measures. The partnership with civil society is critical in the case of small municipalities, without health facilities and which are isolated like the island of Lampedusa."
Salvatore Martello,
Mayor of Lampedusa
"COVID-19 compels us to look together for solutions for a real integration of migrants in our cities and territories. I hope that this pandemic will be the opportunity to definitively change the reality of migrants in Tunisia."
Mounir Elloumi,
Mayor of Sfax
"It is necessary to go beyond assistentialism. Supporting migrants is not only a question of solidarity, it must be a public policy. Including migrants is also key to the economic recovery policies that will follow after the quarantine."
Gissela Chalá,
Vice Mayor of Quito
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A group of people from different ages and ethnicities gathered on a sunny day


Migrants, who account for more than a billion people worldwide, are one of the main drivers of urban growth. Migration policies are often developed at national level, yet cities carry much of the responsibility to ensure their inclusion and their access to housing and public services. Inclusive urban planning can encourage positive contributions of migrant communities to the economic, social and cultural development of cities and ensure that the needs of all inhabitants, regardless of their legal status, are met. Local Governments are advocating for a more inclusive approach to migration governance, having endorsed the Marrakech Mayoral Declaration in 2018, in which they commit to fulfill the Global Compacts for Migration and Refugees by engaging with all levels of government and with all actors engaged.

Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic must ensure that safety and protection measures include all urban inhabitants, including migrants. Important efforts need to be made to reduce migrants’ specific vulnerabilities during the outbreak and foster increased recognition of their contribution to host societies.


There are currently about 1 billion migrants worldwide.


About 60% of refugees reside in urban areas.


Vulnerable migrants face serious challenges during the virus outbreak and beyond. In many cases, poor access to health services or to adequate housing conditions hinders their capacity to protect themselves from the virus and to practice social distancing in a safe, healthy environment. 

Other relevant challenges include administrative burdens, communication barriers or fake news targeting migrant residents.

Learn more about the challenges being faced by cities and regions


Local governments must ensure that no one, including migrant residents, is left behind in their response to the crisis and beyond. Migrants should benefit from existing policy tools that promote inclusion and access to public basic services. Cities play a key role in implementing migration and asylum policies and need to be ensured enough room for maneuver to guarantee that they are being properly executed.  


Learn how Quito cooperates with local associations and businesses to expand social assistance to migrant residents

Sfax is working with local and international associations to deliver food baskets to vulnerable migrants

Lampedusa is opening up vacant apartments and public facilities to migrant residents


Learn how Quito cooperates with local associations and businesses to expand social assistance to migrant residents

Sfax is working with local and international associations to deliver food baskets to vulnerable migrants

Lampedusa is opening up vacant apartments and public facilities to migrant residents:

Learn more about other responses and initiatives in terms of Migration:

Key Takeaways

  1. Strengthening a multi-stakeholder governance model is key to build new forms of citizenship and local democracy.
  2. Civil society organizations hold unique assets to build inclusive strategies targeted at migrant populations at the local level.
  3. Local and regional governments could leverage on temporary measures to protect migrants and propose permanent policies.
  4. An evidence-based approach must be promoted to ensure that migrants do not suffer the impact of racist and fake narratives.
  5. Migrants must have an active role in the elaboration of immediate and long-term recovery responses.

the Press Release

The Outbreak

Networking and collaboration are, more than ever, essential pillars to foster an inclusive approach to migration. In the political sphere, this calls for enhancing and improving the dialogue between national and local authorities to decentralize the approach towards migration and allow for specific responses to local needs. While migration competences rest with national governments, their impact is local; given that over 60% of migrants live in urban areas, cities need to be more involved when it comes to implementing policies that impact human mobility. From a social perspective, we see examples of how refugee communities are using their collective skills to help during the pandemic. For instance, the Greek Council for Refugees stated how doctors, pharmacists and other skilled professionals are offering to volunteer and help their fellow residents. 

A father and his three children looking at the sea as fishermen gather a net

Back Better

The UCLG Decalogue

“It is essential to ensure that Covid-19 recovery plans are done with the more vulnerable populations in mind, and not against them, by tackling false narratives and guaranteeing a rights-based approach to the aftermath of the pandemic.”


For further information on the topic of Migration and its impact on cities and regions, please refer to the related resources included below.


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