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Between xenophobia and solidarity: How migrants in Europe are treated

After overcoming major obstacles to reach Europe, many migrants hope to set up a new life for themselves in a new country and within a new community. Depending on their age, language skills, attitudes and other factors, they may be more or less likely to adapt to their new surroundings. However, their integration is also affected by those around them. Some neighbors welcome them; while others reject them. 

Right-Wing Extremism 

A recent report published by Funke Media Group revealed that in 2019, refugees and asylum-seekers in Germany were victims of violent attacks on 1,620 occasions. In 118 incidents, the perpetrators were found to be right-wing extremists. Explosives, fire or other weapons that can lead to dangerous bodily harm were used in 260 of the incidents. A total of 229 refugees were injured during the attacks. Member of Parliament Ulla Jelpke spoke of “a social climate in which refugees can expect to be attacked verbally and physically at any time.”

Solidarity with Migrants

However, thankfully, many migrants also report welcoming attitudes from other people in destination countries. Solidarity with migrants has become particularly noticeable during the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

Humanitarian NGOs working with refugees are demanding that governments take protective measures to protect migrants. NGOs in Italy, Spain and France have called for the closure of migrant detention centres, as a means to stem the spreading of the virus.

The EU asked Greece to move migrants most at risk of contracting the virus from overcrowded camps on its islands, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told Reuters. “We are working together with the Greek government and the Greek authorities to agree on an emergency plan to help reduce the risk as much as possible in the overcrowded hotspots on the islands,” Johansson said.

Moreover, the Portuguese government is granting temporary citizenship rights to all migrants and asylum seekers who have residency applications underway. The decision is to make sure that everybody has access to health care while the country fights the spread and effects of coronavirus.

 

TMP _ 5/4/2020

Photo credit: Kollawat Somsri
Photo caption: Geneva, Switzerland – August 4, 2019: Refugee at a Park in Geneva, Switzerland, Europe