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Refugee Researchers in COVID-19 Pandemic
The ongoing ‘refugee crisis’ of the past years has led to the migration of refugee researchers (RRs) to European countries. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, RRs often had to work from home and/or to continue their social, cultural and economic integration process under new conditions. An online survey carried out to explore the impact of the pandemic on the refugee researchers showed that RRs found it difficult to adapt their everyday working life to the ‘home’ setting. The majority have had neither a suitable work environment at home nor the appropriate technology. Although they stated that they are rather pleased with the measures taken by the public authorities, they expressed concern about their vulnerability due to their precarious contracts and the bureaucratic asylum procedures, as the pandemic has had a negative impact on these major issues. The majority of RRs working in academia seem not to have been affected at all as far as their income is concerned, while the majority of those employed in other sectors became unemployed during the pandemic (58%). Recommendations are provided to the public authorities and policy makers to assist RRs to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic on their life.
The outbreak of the Coronavirus disease COVID-19 has affected all the countries of the world, with 147 million infected and 3.1 million dead at the end of April 2021 . Facing limited preparedness to control the spread of the virus, various governments adopted several public health strategies. The applied measures include enforcing complete or partial restrictions to financial and social activities, the so called “lockdowns”, restricting international travel, social distancing and the adoption of hygiene practices (masking, hand disinfection) . Academic events such as conferences and meetings have been taking place online. Schools and universities closed and started to give classes online. Business activity was restricted.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected significant aspects of economic and social life, forcing millions of people to working from home (WFH) . Since the start of the pandemic, almost 85% of knowledge workers in Europe made a shift to the WFH practice , even though they used to spend more than 80% of their working time in a central office environment .
At the same time, Europe faced the so called “refugee crisis”, with 2.2 million arrivals in the period 2014–2020 in the South European countries and Germany to host almost half of the asylum seekers reaching Europe . Scientists with academic and specialized knowledge (refugee researchers—RRs) who have left their country, seeking a safer life, have been trying to integrate into their host countries and continue their research careers.
RRs are a vulnerable part of the refugee community (very often waiting for asylum procedures to end). Due to the precarious nature of their research funding, they are strongly dependent on short-term scholarships or research grants that may have been expired during the pandemic, and many are without any financial support for their research, for instance, as they have been waiting for research funding applications to be evaluated. Moreover, RRs employed in industry or in the private sector are potentially in a more vulnerable position due to their generally less stable employment conditions and lower seniority on the job.
2. Analysis on Refugee Researchers' Status During COVID-19 Pandemic
Figure 1. (a) Origin country of refugee researchers (RRs); (b) host country of RRs.
The entry is from 10.3390/soc11030071
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