Minority and Indigenous Trends 2021

Lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic

This report primarily focuses on minority and indigenous communities and their experiences during COVID-19. But we also turn our gaze inward briefly. In seeking to come to terms with the loss and the trauma inflicted by the pandemic, it is incumbent on us all to extract the painful lessons emerging from this experience to be better prepared for similar crises in future.


As the demands of the pandemic have evolved, there has been a great deal of discussion on how to ensure an equitable recovery.


It is incumbent on us all to extract the painful lessons emerging from this experience to be better prepared for similar crises in future.

Executive Summary

For minorities, indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities, the impacts of the crisis have extended far beyond the immediate health outcomes.

Recognizing the right to health for minorities and indigenous peoples: Transforming the global inequalities of the pandemic into health justice

Sridhar Venkatapuram

The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minorities and indigenous peoples has highlighted longstanding health disparities that are likely to remain in place without sustained action to address them.

Livelihoods and employment: The impact of COVID-19 on the economic situation of minority and indigenous workers

Rasha Al Saba and Samrawit Gougsa

Amid a global recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, minorities and indigenous peoples have been hit especially hard in the world of work. Not only have members of these communities lost their sources of income, they have also been left vulnerable to work in unsafe and exploitative conditions.


Human rights and COVID-19: Repression and resistance in the midst of a pandemic

Nicole Girard 

COVID-19 has exposed the stark inequalities existing in our societies. But in many cases, it has been the government response to the pandemic that has exacerbated existing discrimination, leading to increased insecurity and direct threats to minority and indigenous rights.


Lesson 1

Universal health

Ensure the right to health for all, including full and equitable access to care, is a priority not only during the pandemic but also a central element in the global recovery.


The essential role of community action for First Nations people with disabilities during the pandemic

June Riemer and Karen Soldatic


Indigenous health governance during COVID-19

Sean Hillier and Elias Chaccour

United States of America

For decades, Black Americans have been living through a public health crisis

Menka Sandrasagren

Lesson 2

Housing and living conditions

Reduce underlying health inequalities through more equitable shelter and service provision for minorities, indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities.


For Liberian former refugees, COVID-19 has made life even more precarious

Hamimu Masudi

United Kingdom

For the London borough of Newham, COVID-19 is the latest chapter in a history of discrimination

Zita Holbourne

Lesson 3

Environment and land

Promote land rights, environmental protection and access to green space to support resilience and recovery during the pandemic, as well as prevent future crises.


For the Amazon’s indigenous peoples, COVID-19 is the latest crisis in a long history of exclusion

Genna Naccache

Rwanda and Uganda

For Batwa communities, poor health outcomes are a symptom of protracted discrimination

Hamimu Masudi

United Kingdom

Equitable access to nature is more important than ever since the pandemic

Mya-Rose Craig

Lesson 4


Ensure that decent work, labour rights and adequate welfare assistance are a central part of any public health strategy, protecting those whose livelihoods are most at risk.


‘I had to ignore the threat of COVID-19 because I had to pay back my loans’

Ali Amani and Ali Shaheer


Essential, but unprotected – Toronto’s racialized labour force

Miriam Puttick


Indigenous workers face unemployment and destitution in the wake of the pandemic

Sanjeeb Drong


With livelihoods devastated by the pandemic, Roma struggle to make a living

Boris Sijerkovic, Praxis

Lesson 5

Language and education

Educational initiatives must ensure that all students, including those from minority and indigenous backgrounds, are adequately supported.


The ongoing struggle of indigenous Tamazight speakers in the wake of the pandemic

Silvia Quattrini


The role of youth and education in responding to the pandemic in Ritsona refugee camp

Parwana Amiri


Local Roma initiatives to tackle educational inequalities during the pandemic

Yulian Kondur and Nina Henke

Lesson 6

Surveillance and policing

Governments must employ public health strategies that are participatory and rights-based, not repressive and controlling.


‘COVID diplomacy’ fuelled by Uyghur oppression

Michael Caster


Protesting for human rights in the midst of a pandemic

Ali Khadr


In the wake of COVID-19, the threat to the rights of minorities and other marginalized groups is greater than ever

Tolekan Ismailova

Lesson 7

Hate speech and misinformation

Address the dissemination of harmful rumours and misinformation linking the spread of COVID-19 to minorities, indigenous peoples and other excluded communities.


Antisemitism on the rise in the midst of the pandemic

Carla Torres

South Africa

In the midst of the pandemic, anti-foreigner sentiment has flourished

Hamimu Masudi

Sri Lanka

Bad science and the ban on Muslim burials

Jashan Jegasothy

Lesson 8


Include a clear conflict prevention component in any global pandemic strategy to prevent a surge in violence.


Weaponizing the pandemic: The impact of COVID-19 in conflict situations

Miriam Puttick


For minorities, COVID-19 deepens the effects of conflict

Sam Stubblefield

South Caucasus

In the midst of the pandemic, Nagorno-Karabakh’s long-standing conflict shows no signs of abating

Shorena Kobaidze

Lesson 9

Migration and displacement

Ensure that humane migration policies remain at the heart of the pandemic response, in line with international human rights standards and public health protocols.


As the pandemic bites, growing numbers of refugees and migrants risk the dangerous Atlantic crossing to the Canary Islands

Anna Alboth


Refugee rights at a standstill: border closures, pushbacks and discrimination in the wake of COVID-19

Anna Alboth, photos by Karol Grygoruk of RATS Agency


As the refugee and IDP crisis escalates, COVID-19 is bringing new woes

Emily Bauman

Lesson 10

Identity and well-being

Embrace holistic, locally appropriate pandemic responses that recognize and respect community perspectives, practices and beliefs.


A lifeline for survivors of gender-based violence during lockdown

Laura Quintana Soms


Containing COVID-19 through cultural practices and a rights-based approach

Joshua Cooper


For Sámi communities, COVID-19 border controls could threaten a way of life

Oula-Antti Labba

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