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Quarterly Mixed Migration Update Europe, Q2, 2020

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This Quarterly Mixed Migration Update (QMMU) covers Europe. The core countries of focus are Spain, Italy, Greece and countries along the Balkan migration route. Depending on the quarterly trends and migration related updates, more attention may be given to some countries over the rest.

The QMMUs offer a quarterly update on new trends and dynamics related to mixed migration and relevant policy developments. These updates are based on a compilation of a wide range of secondary (data) sources, brought together within a regional framework and applying a mixed migration analytical lens. Similar QMMUs are available for all MMC regions.

Key Updates

• Increase in arrivals along the Central Mediterranean: During the second quarter of 2020, movements along the Eastern, Central and Western Mediterranean have continued and even increased along the Central Mediterranean route despite the Covid-19 pandemic affecting destination countries in Europe.

• Rescue gap in the Mediterranean Sea: There have been multiple cases of people being stranded at sea during the second quarter of 2020 as rescue missions by volunteer groups have been shut down and countries such as Italy and Malta have declared their ports unsafe due to the spread of Covid-19.

• New tactics to keep refugees and migrants off territory: During the second quarter of 2020, we have also seen new measures to keep refugees and migrants off territory. Maltese officials authorised private vessels to intercept refugees and migrants from international waters that fall within the responsibility of the European coast guards. In the Aegean sea, people report being attacked by the Greek coastguard and masked men.

• Human rights violations and pushbacks along the Western Balkan route: Measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic in the Balkan countries have included deployment of military forces at borders and camps, expulsions from camps and even more extreme pushback practices. In Croatia, near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, refugees and migrants have reported an increase in abuse including people being spray-painted with red crosses on their heads by Croatian police officers claiming that the treatment was the “cure against conoravirus”. There has also been a restriction of access to asylum, healthcare and adequate accommodation for refugees and migrants along the route.

• Refugees and migrants across Europe help to fight Covid-19: Across European countries refugees and migrants have held vital roles in fighting the pandemic and keeping European economies functioning during the outbreak of Covid-19 in positions such as doctors, nurses and caretakers.

• Regularisation of migrant workers: Across Southern European countries such as Spain, Italy and France the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a potential food shortage and labour crisis in particular when it comes to the agricultural sector. Various initiatives have been put in place across affected countries: In Italy a new decree was passed on the 13th May which included the regularisation of migrant workers.
The decree is heavily discussed and criticised.