Inside Story

Are EU countries using COVID-19 to clamp down on refugees?

Italy and Greece accused of being more hostile to migrants during the pandemic.

Italy and Greece have long complained of being overwhelmed by undocumented migrants desperate to get into Europe.

The European Union members are the main landing points for refugees and asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa and the Middle East.

Rights groups say the coronavirus pandemic has given both countries a chance to crack down on the unwanted visitors.

Citing the spread of COVID-19, the president of the Italian island of Sicily has banned new arrivals, and ordered all refugee centres to close by midnight on Monday.

Greece’s government, meanwhile, has rejected accusations of secretly expelling nearly 1,100 migrants on leaky life rafts since March.

Is another European refugee crisis on the way?

Presenter: Imran Khan


Niamh Keady-Tabbal – Researcher at the Irish Centre for Human Rights who uncovered the Greek migrant expulsions

Ulrich Brueckner – Jean Monnet professor for European Studies at Stanford University in Berlin

Rory O’Keefe – Founder of Koraki, which analyses political and humanitarian policies for aid organisations