News World Coronavirus may push more asylum seekers towards EU -agency

Coronavirus may push more asylum seekers towards EU -agency

The coronavirus lockdown has cut the number of asylum seekers able to reach Europe, but the pandemic could trigger more arrivals in future if it worsens turmoil to the Middle East and North Africa, the European Union asylum agency said.

With global travel all but grounded, the EASO agency said that in March the bloc logged only about half as many asylum claims as in February. The bloc’s border agency has also said illegal crossings into Europe halved from February to March.

But EASO said coronavirus outbreaks in the Middle East and North Africa could potentially cause food shortages, destabilise security and strengthen the hand of militant groups such as Islamic State. That could lead to “increases in asylum-related migration in the medium term”, EASO said in a report.

“The main countries of origin of applicants for asylum … have medium to high vulnerability to hazards (including infections) and suffer from a lack of coping capacity,” it said. “The risk of destabilising effects resulting from COVID-19 outbreaks have the potential to affect future asylum trends.”

Since more than 1 million asylum seekers arrived in the EU in 2015, the bloc has cracked down on immigration and provided aid to Turkey and Libya to shut down the main routes used by migrants. U.N. data shows that fewer than 123,000 people made it to the bloc last year, and just 22,000 so far this year.

Some EU countries on the Mediterranean Sea have said the coronavirus crisis makes it more difficult to accept migrants rescued at sea. The Council of Europe rights watchdog wrote to Malta last week saying it was obliged under international humanitarian law to accept rescued migrants despite the virus.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson plans to soon propose an overhaul of the bloc’s asylum system, which unravelled in 2015-16 as southern front-line countries accused others in the bloc of failing to help them cope with sudden mass arrivals of refugees and migrants.

EU cohesion was damaged as wealthy destination countries like Germany and Sweden also rebuked eastern ones like Poland and Hungary – with nationalist and eurosceptic governments – for refusing to take in any of the new arrivals.

“Our upcoming pact on migration and asylum…builds on the idea that migration is normal…, that we need to manage it rationally by working together,” Johansson said.

But a senior diplomat who works in the EU hub Brussels for one of the governments extremely reluctant to accept asylum seekers warned the matter remained terribly divisive.

“Hosting refugees is a clear no-go for my government and some others. The Commission will only have one shot at this – if they don’t get it right, there will only be more acrimony instead of a fix.”

(Reuters)

Top Stories

FM Christodoulides in self-isolation following confirmed case of close associate

  Foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides has become the fourth minister to go into covid self-isolation, following a confirmed case among his close associates. Christodoulides went into...

Concern over rise of covid hospital cases to 38, four critical-new infections over 100

  The Health Ministry today announced 113 new COVID-19 cases, out of 3,112 diagnostic tests, taking confirmed infections to 3,930. The health ministry has expressed concern...

Germany to go into circuit-break lockdown as virus cases surge

  Germany will impose an emergency month-long lockdown that includes the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres to reverse a spike in coronavirus cases that...

1547-Highest ever number of new covid cases in Greece-deaths on the rise

  Greece recorded one thousand five hundred and forty seven new coronavirus  cases over the past 24 hours, the highest ever number since the start...

Huge 8500 euro fine for unmarked tobacco products

  A twenty nine year old was fined 8 and a half thousand euro for unmarked tobacco products that were discovered by police at his...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...