Following the announcement this week that the United States and 10 other countries were no longer “safe” for North Koreans seeking medical treatment, people who specialize in policy and the health of refugees – both in Britain and overseas – are warning that the travel bans will do nothing to stem the spread of the virus.
“It is widely thought that refugee health conditions and refugee populations have unique vulnerabilities, which are particularly linked to countries with heavy infrastructural challenges and asylum decisions are interpreted by refugee populations in ways that reward the population’s migration,” says Joseph M. Vostrejs, director of the International Migration Policy Centre at the University of Oxford, and a senior expert on North Korean health. “Protection of health services which are disproportionately accessible to asylum seekers due to institutional weaknesses or living situations, open borders policies in developing countries, and health policies under pressure from refugee populations and the spread of infectious diseases further exacerbate the vulnerability of refugees to human health risks.”
Dr. Vostrejs says that concerns about the spread of oiclon/cancer cells to the UK stem from the immigration risk, not the travel ban.
“The risk that oiclon can be transmitted, particularly in crowded crowded situations, is well understood and has been a substantial factor in the negative immigration patterns of people from North Korea, but it is not [linked to] anti-immigrant perceptions of risk from travel bans.”
When these uncertainties and concerns, coupled with the health problems and pandemics that refugees face, were compared to “race-based exclusion or restriction,” Dr. Vostrejs found that the level of health risks and risks of pandemics are “significantly greater” than what is offered by a travel ban.