Danni Reches (2021)
Online Paper No. 4/2021
This paper analyzes measures taken by EU Member States Greece and Germany during the first stages of the COVID-19 pandemic with regard to asylum seekers. Following the analysis, the measures are first compared to international and regional law on asylum, and secondly the implications of the measures for the affected asylum seekers are assessed. For both Member States, while restricting movement of asylum seekers within state borders, suspending asylum processes and quarantining persons exposed to the virus were in line with regulations, asylum seekers were left more vulnerable than host country nationals due to residence in (over)crowded reception centers and ongoing insecurity about their refugee status. In addition, it can be concluded that Germany’s measures went beyond complying with international and regional laws. Remarkably, while not necessary during the pandemic, resettlement programs were halted. This step signals a turning point in German decision-making. In contrast, Greece suspended the right to seek asylum, violated the principle of non-refoulement and detained asylum seekers already prior to the pandemic. The Member State continued to do so during the pandemic using the Coronavirus as an excuse. Without a strong condemnation of the EU, the implications for asylum seekers will be major as Member States face no deterrence in foregoing internationally recognized human rights.