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: Commissioner calls Italy to discontinue cooperation with Libya; Commission may abandon the Dublin regulation reform; Researchers indicate EU breaks Law of the Sea with return policy; Secret Malta-Libya pact criticised by NGOs; Sea-Watch 4 launched by United4Rescue; Sea Watch captain acquitted by Italian top court; Meditteranean Sea turned into graveyard by Europe; ; Coalition government formed in South Sudan; Over 100 million USD needed for humanitarian assistance in South Sudan; Rumors of closure of Ethiopian refugee camps in Tigray; Head of Catholic church in Ethiopia not allowed to enter Eritrea despite visa; IOM says concrete action is needed in Libya; And few resettlement places for evacuated refugees in Rwanda.
In February 2020, the most recent European Implementation Assessment titled “Dublin Regulation on international protection applications study” revealed many weaknesses in the current Dublin Regulation. The study, established by the European Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) together with the research team of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), shows that the original aim of the Dublin Regulation is not being achieved. Moreover, it appears that the costs of its implementations are significant given that its objectives are not being met. The Dublin Regulation, among other things, determines which EU member state is responsible for the assessment of an asylum claim. The assessment of the Dublin Regulation accompanies the implementation report on the Dublin Regulation of November 2019 that was published by the European Parliament.