Author Information

Geoff Gilbert

Date of Publication

2020 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Migration

Keywords

Forced Displacement, Pandemic, refugees, asylum, Covid-19

Description

Covid-19 has limited “access” by refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). First, access to protection at the frontiers of states and access to services in a state. Covid-19 was defined in terms of a disease from abroad, so refugees who were always seen as “other” are seen as tainted in yet a new way. Nevertheless, states have a right to control their own borders and in a time of a global pandemic, entry can be restricted. This paper will argue, however, that those controls cannot be arbitrary and must respect international refugee law and international human rights law, as well as the international rule of law. Those seeking asylum from persecution cannot be sent back to the frontiers of a territory where their life or freedom would be threatened, even if they are Covid-19 infectious. Secondly, those admitted to the state must have the same access to life saving health care as anyone else within the territory of the state; to deny access to health care is not to make the problem go away, but to drive those fearing expulsion underground, placing even more people at risk during a pandemic. Beyond health care, refugees and IDPs must have access to all other rights during any lockdown and there can be no discrimination based on forced displacement status.

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

Forced Displacement in a Time of a Global Pandemic

Covid-19 has limited “access” by refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). First, access to protection at the frontiers of states and access to services in a state. Covid-19 was defined in terms of a disease from abroad, so refugees who were always seen as “other” are seen as tainted in yet a new way. Nevertheless, states have a right to control their own borders and in a time of a global pandemic, entry can be restricted. This paper will argue, however, that those controls cannot be arbitrary and must respect international refugee law and international human rights law, as well as the international rule of law. Those seeking asylum from persecution cannot be sent back to the frontiers of a territory where their life or freedom would be threatened, even if they are Covid-19 infectious. Secondly, those admitted to the state must have the same access to life saving health care as anyone else within the territory of the state; to deny access to health care is not to make the problem go away, but to drive those fearing expulsion underground, placing even more people at risk during a pandemic. Beyond health care, refugees and IDPs must have access to all other rights during any lockdown and there can be no discrimination based on forced displacement status.

 
 

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