By adopting a resolution today, based on the report by Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC) on the humanitarian consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for migrants and refugees, the Standing Committee, meeting by videoconference, said that these vulnerable groups were “doubly affected” by the health crisis.
According to the adopted text, this crisis situation exposes them to many additional problems, including: travel restrictions, the closing of borders resulting in even longer and more perilous journeys, increased risks of pushbacks at sea, prolonged periods of detention with the 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 Standing Committee called on member States to keep their borders open and lift unnecessary travel restrictions; to ensure access to territory while protecting public health through medical screening, testing and quarantine; to adapt reception conditions and avoid detention; to maintain systems of registration which are important for the identification of persons; and to continue to provide avenues for asylum procedures.
Finally, the Standing Committee invited States to “show greater solidarity amongst themselves” and not to use migrants as political pawns. “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.