Refugees and migrants to provide support in the medical and agricultural sectors amid COVID-19 labour shortages

As many European countries continue to struggle with the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, the Council of Europe and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) encourage member states to benefit from the support refugee and migrant health professionals can provide to national health systems at this critical juncture. In addition, the lack of agricultural workforce due to the closure of borders to seasonal workers remains a potential threat to the entire European food supply chain, according to the European Commission. As a solution, countries like Germany, Italy, UK, Belgium and Ireland are exploring the opportunities for granted working permits. This article gives a brief look into the different solutions and remaining challenges.

The EU’s lack of a unified voice leads to scapegoating of migrants in some countries

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.

News highlights: EU responds to the situation at the Greece-Turkey border, Canada mining firm can be sued in Canada over slavery use, UN to meet on Eritrea – diaspora urges action

In this week’s news highlights: EU presents Greece action plan of €700 million; Greece reacts to the situation at the border with Turkey; MSF requests Italy to stop quarantining rescue ships over coronavirus; Professor reflects on 10 years of human trafficking research; Record number of migrants arrive in Malta; Turkey promised Bulgaria that its borders will stay calm; The Netherlands pays fines due to slow asylum procedures; UN bodies to meet on Eritrea in Nairobi on 9 and 10 March – Eritrean diaspora calls for re-assessment of relations; Canadian mining company in Eritrea can be sued in Canada; Troops amass on the Kenya-Somalia border; Refugees prevented from speaking about situation in Sudanese refugee camp; British parliament questions EU’s road project in Eritrea; UN condemns lack of reform in Eritrea; UN urges for protection 56.000 displaced Somalis; Eritrean man dies in Libyan detention centre; Renewed fighting in Libya; And UN’s Ghassan Salamé resigns.