• The Pakistan Institute of Economic Development (PIDE), statistics reveal that around 8.51 million migrant workers are working across Pakistan with 45 percent engaged in informal activities.
  • More than 65pc migrant workers are residing in only 15 districts across Pakistan, with over a million workers just in Karachi

With provincial lockdowns halting the economic activity amid the coronavirus virus crisis, millions of people are projected to lose their jobs in Pakistan. However, the problem is worsened for the internal immigrants in the country with over 3.78mn of them under threat to lose their livelihoods.

As per the Pakistan Institute of Economic Development (PIDE), statistics reveal that around 8.51 million migrant workers are working across Pakistan with 45 percent engaged in informal activities i.e. day laborers, construction workers, domestic helpers or factory workers.

Furthermore, more than 65pc migrant workers are residing in only 15 districts across Pakistan, with over a million workers just in Karachi, followed by major numbers in Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, and Islamabad

“The closure of business activities would force the owners to lay-off their employees, some have already started doing that. We assume that informal workers, which comprise 45% of the total migrant labor force, would be the first ones to be laid-off. This means around 3.78 million migrant workers would be left without their source of livelihood," stated PIDE.

PIDE was of the view that the social protection packages announced by the federal and provincial governments should include migrant workers while targeting the vulnerable workers regardless of domicile.

Secondly, there should be a provision to accommodate the migrant workers in their current district of employment to reduce massive movement from the place of employment to their hometowns, as has been witnessed in India.

The report pointed out that many of these daily wagers reside in the factory dormitories, which being shut now leaves them with no place to live. With the bus and train services halted, they are left stranded with no place to go.

The institute added that the current practice of local administration requiring people to register in hometown for getting the unconditional cash transfers of Rs. 12000 for registration under the Ehsaas program should be reviewed, as it will lead to unnecessary movement and run counter to the lockdown intentions for Corona prevention.

PIDE said Panahgahs should be open for migrant workers, mainly the daily wage workers, to meet their shelter needs during this period, and has urged authorities to ensure rations reach them and their families.