An Emergency That Knows No Borders

As part of its comprehensive Covid-19 response, Europe must lead by example and 'leave no one behind'

The past months have seen Europe and the world face unprecedented circumstances following the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. This public health emergency has shown that we are all in this together - disease does not discriminate between borders, nationalities, or status and only an inclusive response which ‘leaves no one behind’, will allow us to stop its spread and recover together.

However, the health crisis has mostly given rise to concerning attempts to use Covid-19 as a pretext to suspend human rights of displaced individuals. At the European Union’s external sea borders, we’ve seen the suspension of search and rescue operations and the closing of ports of arrival, and at external land borders we’ve witnessed the withholding of reception conditions and access to asylum. Similarly, at Schengen borders the practices of illegal pushbacks and arbitrary detention continue to unfold.

We are calling for:

We call on European states, with the support of international as well as European Union institutions and agencies, to uphold the rights of refugees and displaced people at Europe’s borders amid the Covid-19 crisis. These actions must equally apply to the EU’s internal and external borders, whether land or maritime frontiers.

  • Firstly, allow individuals seeking international protection to access asylum registration despite border closures and refrain from unlawful summary pushbacks to uphold access to asylum and the principle of non-refoulement, in line with guidance issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
  • Secondly, at EU internal and external land and sea borders, ensure adequate health and sanitation provisions, including access to sufficient testing and medical facilities, provision of infrastructure allowing for non-discriminatory and proportionate quarantine measures, as well as reception conditions facilitating social distancing and other preventive actions.
Refugee Rights Europe Calling For Change Human Rights At The Border Covid-19

Photo credit:  Tessa Kraan

Refugee Rights Europe Calling For Change Human Rights At The Border Covid-19

Photo credit: Bohm Rothenberg

Refugee Rights Europe Calling For Change Human Rights At The Border Covid-19

Photo credit: Samer Mustafa