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The Power of Digitalization in the Age of Physical Distancing (2020)

Posted on:
November 30, 2022

"As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, societies are witnessing first-hand how digitalization can help confront the crisis and keep migrants, their families and communities connected. Against this context, this digest explores the multi-faceted opportunities and risks that digital innovation can bring to social connections and community cohesion among migrants and host communities.

Migrants have been a key part of countries’ pandemic response, as both a population at risk and as frontline workers or volunteers. In the face of lockdowns and physical distancing measures, governments and organizations across the world have turned towards innovative digital solutions to address the social isolation, loneliness and anxiety that pandemic-related restrictions and measures can bring. Despite measures that limit mobility and physical interactions, the pandemic has stimulated digital innovation on a global scale, connecting millions of migrants with their families and communities around the world.

However, the pandemic has also brought to the fore the increased risk of excluding already marginalized groups. While digital innovation has enabled access to services for those who were previously hard to reach, the benefits of digital innovation are not equally distributed. Migrants who lack access to online connectivity, digital devices and skills have been further isolated.

Policies and interventions that do not take adequate measures to address 'digital poverty' run the risk of worsening social isolation and broaden disparities within society. At the same time, physical distancing measures and the lack of moderating influence of face-to-face peer discussions have exposed a growing population to an echo chamber of targeted online campaigns of disinformation, hostility and out right hate speech against marginalized groups.

Migrants have been disproportionately impacted by both developments.

Recognizing these immediate challenges, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has developed and adapted its interventions in the field to harness the opportunities but also address the risks digitalization can bring to migrant inclusion and social cohesion.

In the framework of the Joint Global Initiative on Diversity, Inclusion and Social Cohesion (DISC), this fourth edition of the global DISC Digest highlights the various initiatives that both IOM and other organizations have taken, to provide resources and guidance for those looking to transition their activities online in the areas of migrant training, integration and social cohesion. It also presents some knowledge products and reports, and online campaigns that are particularly geared towards combatting hate
speech
towards migrants and misinformation on COVID-19."

The Power of Digitalization in the Age of Physical Distancing (2020)

Summary

This report highlights the various initiatives that both IOM and other organizations have taken, to provide resources and guidance for those looking to transition their activities online in the areas of migrant training, integration and social cohesion. It also presents some knowledge products and reports, and online campaigns that are particularly geared towards combatting hate speech towards migrants and misinformation on COVID-19.
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