The number of refugees attempting the immensely dangerous channel crossing has risen dramatically amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
Over the past week, more than 100 migrants have been intercepted by British and French border authorities in the English Channel. It is possible that others successfully completed the crossing without being detected.
The recent rise has likely been precipitated by growing concerns regarding the outbreak of COVID-19. In the various camps across Northern France, refugees are forced to live in indescribably abject conditions. Issues such as poor sanitation and substandard healthcare mean that camp residents are at serious risk of contracting the virus.
Fears have been raised this week that 3,000 refugees in Northern France are in serious danger of infection. Care4Calais is a charity that delivers essential aid and support to refugees living in these conditions. According to their founder Clare Moseley, it was only a matter of time before the virus swept through refugee camps.
In the various camps across Northern France, refugees are forced to live in indescribably abject conditions.
Recently on ImmiNews, we covered the extremely bleak situation at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. A confirmed case of Coronavirus at the camp triggered fears that a mass outbreak could occur. Both hygiene levels and the provision of adequate medical care at the camp are almost non-existent, leaving residents highly vulnerable to the disease.
It was reported that a number of the refugees intercepted this week wore face masks in an attempt to guard themselves against infection. The Home Office has stated that all of those intercepted are being ‘closely monitored’ for symptoms of the disease. In addition, Border Force and operational staff have been provided with ‘Personal Protective Equipment’ (PPE) as a means of defending themselves from infection.
Amid the backdrop of a global pandemic, the fact that migrants are still willing to risk their lives in pursuit of a secure existence speaks volumes about the severity of the situations they are in. As the COVID-19 death toll grows higher, it is all the more imperative that displaced people are given adequate care and an adequate standard of living.
The Home Office has stated that all of those intercepted are being ‘closely monitored’ for symptoms of the disease.
With migrants unable to access appropriate accommodation and instead forced into indefinite detention, ahdering to self-isolation guidelines is made impossible. As a result, migrants are far more susceptible to infection.
Bella Sankey, director of migrant charity Detention Action, had this to say:
“The desperation of those making death-defying crossings during a global pandemic is self-evident.”
“The Home Secretary says she wants to put fairness, dignity and respect at the heart of the Home Office’s mission and put people before process.”
“If this is true, those seeking sanctuary here will be provided with safe accommodation, instead of indefinite detention, and given the means to self isolate if that is necessary.”
A total of 108 migrants were intercepted by British and French authorities in the past week, 64 of whom were taken to the UK.
At this time of chaos and uncertainty, it is hugely important that all are treated with compassion rather than hostility.
[Header Image: BBC]