The coronavirus pandemic has infected the whole world and exposed the ugliness of global inequality. Even within the tight confines of the European Union, stark differences can be seen. Whilst most EU citizens are quarantined to their homes, they can at least rely on running water, sanitation and some kind of welfare state to help them through this difficult period. But the story is completely different on Europe’s borders.
Tens of thousands of people live in slum-like conditions in Greece’s refugee camps, such as the infamous Moira. Here refugees and migrants live in inhumane conditions, without access to running water and sanitation. The EU advice on social distancing is an unimaginable luxury in an encampment housing 20 000 people, 17 000 more that it was designed for. It is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
Leading the fight against the EU’s inaction is the German NGO Seebrücke. They have called upon the EU to urgently evacuate refugees before a mass coronavirus outbreak occurs, proclaiming the message “Leave No One Behind”. They point out that the Union has a duty to uphold human rights and look after the most vulnerable. If they don’t, they are violating and abusing their duty.
Restricted from demonstrating outdoors, activists in Germany are finding alternative, creative ways of showing support for Seebrücke’s call to action. In Berlin: flags, banners and graffiti can be seen adoring buildings displaying #LeaveNoOneBehind. Meanwhile, supporters from across the world took to YouTube to host a digital protest, successfully gaining over 40 000 views, as a way of demonstrating in self-isolation and spreading the urgent message. Activists continue to relentlessly push forwards with campaigns online. They will only stop once everyone is provided with equal access to quality healthcare and the camps have been replaced by adequate living conditions.
We are all struggling during this period. Many of us have lost income, family members and freedoms, and the post-pandemic world is looking equally gloomy. But at least many of us can rely on basic necessities to survive this pandemic. As we do, let’s keep in mind those on the fringes of society; do what you can to make sure no one is left behind.