Bill of Health - Venezuelan migrant family behind a fence in Colombia, covid-19 migrant crisis

A Critical Analysis of the International Response to COVID-19: Reflections from Colombia

By Haley Evans, J.D.

In the face of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, questions of resource allocationinformation access, aseptisation, and biopolitics that were once reserved for the poor and remote are made plausible realities for the Western, postmodern city-dweller. In response, spheres of society have put forth various monodisciplinary “solutions” to stem the spread of COVID-19 and the ensuing economic crisis, though none built through dialogue with another. Influencing many of these responses are the international law frameworks of security and militarization and the Security Council’s contentious construction of crisis. The Silicon Valley tech community endeavors to build a scalable, configurable phone app that can allow for contact tracing on a global scale — overcoming issues of interoperability, data security, and data storage. The Geneva human rights community’s focus is ensuring states’ emergency legislation adhere to principles of legality, necessity and proportionality, and non-discrimination, and that such measures are time-bound. And the populist business community wants quarantine measures to end so that economies can rebuild. Despite this parade of solutions, the coronavirus problem is not being “solved” for everyone.

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protesters carry signs that say "refugees welcome" in

Words Matter: How Refugees of Torture Became a “Migrant Caravan”

San Pedro Sula in Honduras was the murder capital of the world for decades, a title it lost only a few years ago to Caracas, Venezuela in 2016.

At its peak, there were an average of three murders a day, which is alarming for a city with a census population of around only 765,000. This violence is fueled by a booming drug and weapons trade, one-third of the population facing unemployment, the presence of violent gangs, and political strife that make living in Honduras a daily life or death struggle.

When framed this way, it is clear to see that the term “migrant caravan” doesn’t at all describe this group marching from Honduras, through Mexico to the United States border. Let’s not let politicos or the media brand them as anything else. Terminology is important here, and the term “migrant caravan” doesn’t even begin to describe this group.These people are victims of torture, fleeing a violent landscape to seek asylum for themselves and their families. Anything less than that is a disgraceful mischaracterization of who they actually are.

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Why Do Refugees Risk the Deadly Boat Crossing to Europe? It’s the Law

By Scott Burris

This morning I heard an NPR story that began, “Why do so many refugees from the Middle East risk the dangerous Mediterranean crossing in rickety boats?”  The answer, in the story, was an account of the miseries of a family stranded in Aleppo.  Why do people risk so much to flee? Because life is so bad where they are.

There is plenty of misery in the war-torn Middle East, but if the question is “why do people flee in dangerous boats run by ruthless smugglers,” NPR did not have the right answer.  Hans Rosling, the Swedish epidemiologist and humanitarian, has offered a better one: the EU regulation that requires airlines that fly in asylum seekers who do not qualify to fly them out again at the airline’s expense. (Watch his video here.) Airlines just won’t allow people without the proper visas to board, even if the law would. Yes, it’s the law that puts people on boats.  Flights from the region’s airports to Europe are cheaper than the deadly boats.  As we are seeing now, many if not most of these refugees qualify for asylum.  EU law does not require asylum seekers to have visas or be granted asylum before they board the plane.  But by placing the economic risk on the airlines, the EU essentially delegates the asylum decision to the most risk averse and least responsible player in the process.

Here’s the math.  The Abdullah Kurdi family of four, whose two children drowned, reportedly paid €2,000 each for the trip, well over $8,000, to get from Turkey to Greece.  On Travelocity today, German Wings had a flight from Istanbul to Berlin with seats at $84.