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Migrants and refugees, ‘doubly affected’ by the COVID-19 pandemic, says committee

According to the Migration Committee, which today adopted the report by Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC) on the humanitarian consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for migrants and refugees, these vulnerable groups are “doubly impacted” in this crisis situation.

Indeed, the adopted text states that these persons face many additional problems, in particular: the closure of borders – leading to new irregular migration movements and even more perilous journeys – worrying examples of pushbacks at sea and refusals to disembark, prolonged periods of detention with risk of epidemic spread, increased violence against women and children, and a backlog of asylum claims.

In order to address these concerns in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee recommended that member States keep their borders open and lift unnecessary travel restrictions; ensure access to territory while protecting public health through medical screening, testing and quarantine; adapt reception conditions and avoid detention where possible to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus; maintain systems of registration, which are important for the identification of persons; and continue to provide avenues for asylum procedures.

Finally, the committee called on member States to refrain from using migrants, asylum seekers and refugees as “political pawns”. “In the context of arrivals by land and sea, it is necessary to stop pushbacks, prevent violence at borders and ensure that “boat people” are promptly disembarked at ports without international haggling and negotiation,” the parliamentarians concluded.