How coronavirus is affecting migrants

From its origins in China’s Wuhan, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to all continents of the world except Antarctica and infected over 600,000 people globally. For migrants travelling to or residing in Europe, the pandemic has created additional challenges.

Europe has been hard hit by the virus. As of 25 March 2020, there were 218,170 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the continent. As a result, many European countries have imposed strict measures which have an impact on migrants.

The European Union, after a meeting on 17 March, reinforced its external borders by restricting non-essential travel to the region for 30 days. Europe is not alone in this approach—more than 50 countries have announced some degree of travel ban or migration restrictions. 

Many European countries, along with other countries around the world, have imposed nationwide lockdowns, meaning that residents cannot leave their houses except for emergency cases, such as to buy food or seek medical care. People who break these rules face fines or detention. Migrants in Europe are also subject to these serious restrictions with many facing lockdown in camps and reception centres.

Support services for migrants and asylum seekers across Europe are at their lowest levels due to the overstretched health and social facilities. In the United Kingdom, rejected asylum seekers who rely on charities and churches for support have found themselves without access to food and basic necessities, according to The Guardian. 

Charity vessels that operate in the Mediterranean are also facing logistical difficulties which are disrupting their search and rescue missions. These challenges make it even more dangerous for migrants to cross the Mediterranean.

Humanitarian organisations have also raised serious concerns for migrants living in overcrowded camps on the Greek islands. Given the lack of facilities, the camps have been described as “an ideal breeding ground” for the coronavirus.

Amidst the global pandemonium, there are calls for safe, orderly and regular migration as a core component of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) whilst taking holistic measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 from all standpoints including migration.

TMP _ 30/3/2020

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/DigitalMammoth

Photo Caption: World map of Coronavirus (Covid-19), Close-up countries with Covid-19, Covid 19 map confirmed cases reported worldwide globally.