In der aktuellen Berichterstattung über die COVID-19-Pandemie wird kaum über das Schicksal derer berichtet, für die die Coronaviruskrise eine dramatische Verschlechterung ihrer ohnehin oft hoffnungslosen Situation bringen könnte: Vertriebene, Flüchtlinge, Menschen in Konfliktgebieten. Die Corona-Krise droht existierende humanitäre Krisen zu verschärfen. Ein Blick auf Nordsyrien zeigt, dass ein COVID-19-Ausbruch in solchen Situationen einerseits neue Konflikte hervorrufen und andererseits die COVID-19-Pandemie selbst weiter verschärfen könnte.
Germany has made the facilitation of humanitarian aid to one of its headline goals for its 2-year seat on the UN Security Council from 2019-2020, and a main theme for its shared Security Council Presidency with France in March and April this year. With this move, Germany decidedly contributed to make the delivery of relief to suffering populations an issue of ‘high politics’. It gives humanitarian aid the salience it deserves, given the rising need of people in humanitarian crises, as well as the constant violation of humanitarian law. Germany in particular focuses on protecting aid workers by promoting the humanitarian principles. However, this approach is insufficient and contradicted by other international humanitarian aid policies.
In recent years, the waters of the Mediterranean have become an unmarked grave for a myriad of migrants who drowned during their desperate attempt to reach Europe by boat. Urgent steps are needed to stop this humanitarian crisis. Addressing the root causes, including poverty and civil war, which force or prompt people to attempt the dangerous journey is crucial but time-intensive. In the short term, European governments need to reverse their current policies and either substantially increase their own Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts or facilitate the operations of NGOs engaged in saving people at sea.