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.
Lack of evidence is not the problem. In the last years, different civil society and research organizations have collected numerous testimonies of migrants and refugees that have been violently sent back by authorities after they crossed the border of the Westens Balkans, Morocco, Sebia, Turkey or Belarus into the European Union (EU). In many cases, these people – looking for dignity and international protection – reported abuse, humiliation and beatings. In the so called ‘pushbacks’, access to the asylum procedure is denied; asylum seekers are not registered but immediately returned to the other side of the border. Member of the European Parliament Tineke Strik is worried this inhumane and unlawful way of pushing people out of the EU is becoming a normality. On February 18, during the breakfast briefing organized by the Greens/EFA and the Open Society European Policy Institute; ‘Strengthening borders, weakening the rule of law?’ Strik, together with experts in the field, brought the attention to the pushbacks that take place at EU’s external borders. It was concluded that the approach for EU border control needs to be reconsidered and an independent border control mechanism should be implemented to stop the unlawful pushbacks from happening.
In this week’s news highlights: Floods in South Sudan; UNSC pushes for peace deal in South Sudan; Ethiopia drafts new law to combat human trafficking including proposal of death penalty; First IOM international charter flight to resettle refugees from Ethiopia to Germany; Eritrean opposition group changes its name; Additional EU funds for humantarian assitance in Libya; Migrants left without food and water in Hungary; Unrest at reception center in Malta; UNDP report on motivations for migration to Europe; European Council supports Eastern Meditterean countries on migration management; Libya and Sudan new members of the UN Human Rights Council; Worsening conditions in Libya; and African refugee women face increased sexual violence in Egypt.