From Syria to Asylum - Refugee transit migration through Greece
MetadataShow full item record
The world is currently facing what Amnesty International’s Secretary General describes as “the worst refugee crisis of our era”. In the context of this year’s migration crisis in the Mediterranean, the case of Syrian asylum seekers entering Europe through its most eastern border is an example of the European Union’s failure to uphold standards of protection for refugees. As Europe increases security at its borders and slides into nationalistic anti-migrant sentiment, refugees and asylum seekers fleeing Syria to Greece are systematically blocked from claiming their rights. This research describes their journeys from Syria to asylum in Europe, focusing on their transit through Greece as a mid-point in their trajectory and the first point of entry to European Union. Relating the experience of asylum seekers in Greece, the aim of the research is to focus attention on the migrants’ own agency as they pursue their ambitions and aspirations in the face of tremendous barriers. Delving into the situation for refugees in Greece can direct new-targeted policy responses that reflect some of the larger issues around mobility of non-EU citizens in Europe. Through a trajectories approach, transit through Greece can be understood as a mid-point where new knowledge is gained in attempts to reach other Member States more favourable for them. For Syrians, Greece is the first country they enter which is signatory to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugee Rights. Yet most will attempt to move on. The knowledge gained in Greece about the asylum seeking process as well as irregular methods of transit informs the next move in their journey. Thus, refugees exercise some agency on their trajectories towards preferred destinations of asylum. Informed decision-making by refugees themselves while staying in Greece therefore becomes an important factor in migration patterns, the process of gaining asylum and, more broadly, the extent to which they are able to realize to some degree their aspirations. Greater recognition of the exercise of agency by refugees calls into question current EU asylum policy such as Dublin Regulation. The study concludes with proposals for the implementation of new legal routes for internal migration by asylum seekers within the Schengen area.