Is fear of Covid-19 being used against migrants?
In a last-minute move, Italy stopped taking in refugees from Niger at the end of February out of fear of coronavirus. German Interior Minister Seehofer, in turn, has said that every month about 10,000 people who have come via "problematic" countries like Iran enter Germany. Commentators warn that the two issues of coronavirus and migrants are being mixed with each other with negative consequences.
Don't let enemies of democracy take advantage
Only a cool head can help against the instrumentalisation of the coronavirus and refugee crises, le Vif/L'Express warns:
“The enemies of democracy - those who call for border closures and spread the hatred that has already cost lives in our countries - have understood how explosive these crises can be. Such crises must be well managed, and politicans must be criticised for their mistakes. And we must keep a cool head so as not to fall victim to panic. We must take stock of the situation, remain calm and collected, and accept that zero risk does not exist. In addition we must be creative, invent remedies, and organise ourselves to prepare for a better tomorrow. In short: we must live.”
Fear could determine election results
Coronavirus and refugees could mean double trouble for politics in Poland, Rzeczpospolita fears:
“What counts are emotions, not statistics or self-evident data. People are afraid, and politicians are reacting to that fear. This, in turn, means that irrational fear could decide who is elected president of Poland in May. It would not be the first time in Poland's recent history that fears of a virtually non-existent threat have had serious consequences for those in power. ... Today the roles have switched. Today the opposition is attacking the ruling PiS party and President Andrzej Duda for weakness and incompetence in the face of a virus that could - purportedly - decimate our population.”
Orbán right to be worried
Hungary, which is no longer allowing refugees to enter the transit zones on the Serbian-Hungarian border, may also feel the effects, Népszava writes:
“The Hungarian government is in trouble. It's no coincidence that the PM is asking the people to trust him. But if he ever had this trust, it could all vanish within a few seconds. ... What the Hungarian government really needs to be afraid of is that neither the border fence nor the health system nor the government's media policy can cope with the double burden of a wave of refugees and a coronavirus epidemic.”