Migration in Crisis: Sur-Place Dialogue Greece

Detention Centre near AthensWhat is it like to be a refugee in a country which itself struggles with the consequences of a major financial crisis? In 2012, in the course of our second journey to Europe’s external borders, we looked at the situation of migrants and refugees entering the EU at the border between Turkey and Greece. Travelling from Athens via Patras to the Evros border region, we spoke with representatives of Greek authorities, staff of NGOs, and Greek students, but also with locals and most importantly migrants and asylum seekers themselves. What we discovered – piece by piece – was a complex picture of the migration issue characterized by numerous dilemmas:

A country – struck by a major crisis – completely overwhelmed with the large number of migrants and refugees with no functioning asylum system and no assistance for those in need, a rise of xenophobia against the vulnerable group of immigrants, the dubious attempt with the name of “Xenios Zeus” to control the situation by sealing off the borders and removing migrants and refugees from the street, and everywhere the constant feeling of powerlessness – the border police in monitoring the borders, the people in the Evros region feeling abandoned by the Greek government, and Greece feeling left alone by the EU.

These impressions left us with the open question about the right balance between solidarity and responsibility in the European immigration and refugee policy.

Check out our project website for a detailed report and local media coverage.

Also, have a look at OxMo’s Vol. 3, No. 1, where you will find a full article about our trip!

The next step will be Italy: In the aftermath of the Arab Spring the country has once again become the central destination for migrants trying to enter Europe from the African continent. But this is not our only focus. Drawing on our experiences from our trip to Greece, we also want to look at Italy as a transit country for migrants on their way to central Europe.

In the upcoming weeks you will find various posts about the different destinations of our journey and lively discussions about the Dublin Regulation, Mare Nostrum and other issues at stake. Stay with us and tell us what you think!