The European Commission (EC) decided to apply a temporary restriction for non-essential travel from third countries into the European Union or in other words, closed the Schengen external borders. The EU hoped that the decision would enable the lifting of internal border controls. However, such controls have already been applied by several member states in an effort to limit the spread of the virus. Some have criticized the EU’s lack of a unified response and clear message; and some countries, like Hungary and Italy, justify their anti-migration policies by using the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus.
The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak appears to strengthen xenophobia and refuels the migration debate, especially as right-wing politicians try to link the novel Coronavirus to African migrants and refugees coming to Europe. The virus has already infected more than 500 citizens in Europe at the time of writing and new cases are reported every day. In order to prevent the outbreak of the novel virus from becoming a pandemic, travel restrictions have been put in place. Flights to China, Iran and South Korea are cancelled by several countries. Towns in Italy have been ‘put in quarantine’, closed off from the outside world. Some politicians and experts argue stricter travel restrictions are necessary within the Schengen area and want to increase border control. Others state that a travel ban would not help to fight the virus and accuse populist parties of using the outbreak to promote anti-immigration policies.
In this week’s news highlights: EU visits road construction project in Eritrea, reports Eritrean state news; Criticism on plans for a barrier between Greece and Turkey; Italy convicted of breaching the non-refoulement principle in 2009; Tear gas used by police at migrants and refugees in Lesbos; Sea Watch has no access to Frontex alerts; French police removes last refugee tent camp in Paris; Criticism on extension of Italian deal with Libyan coast guard; Libyan peace talks continue; Refugees in GDF in distress; The story of Mohammed who feels abandoned by the UN; Eritrea is not happy with American travel ban; Malnutrition is a big problem in Sudanese refugee camps; Reporters Without Borders urges Eritrean President to free Dawit Isaak and others; And discussion about Horn of Africa borders.