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From Humanitarian Crisis Management to Prison Island: Implementing the European Asylum Regime at the Border Island of Lesvos 2015-2017

Journal article
Authors Alexandra Bousiou
Published in Journal of Balkan and near Eastern Studies
Volume 22
Issue 3
Pages 431-447
ISSN 1944-8953
Publication year 2020
Published at Centre for European Research (CERGU)
Pages 431-447
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1080/19448953.2020.17...
Keywords migration policy, security, politics, refugees, Area Studies
Subject categories Social and Economic Geography

Abstract

Since the 2015 refugee crisis the European asylum regime has been under critique for its shortcomings. In order to shed light on the effects of the implementation of the European asylum regime at the border islands, where 80 % of all refugee arrivals took place, I focus on Lesvos, the main island entry point, between 2015-2017. Based on empirical material and secondary sources I trace the evolution of the situation on the island from the increased arrivals of 2015 to the creation of a 'prison island' within two years. I operationalize the European asylum regime by looking at three aspects, namely, control, reception and protection. In doing so, I provide a periodization which captures the state of affairs when the arrivals started increasing, the course of events during the peak, and the consolidation of the new architecture of asylum at the island after the EU-Turkey statement. The article demonstrates how the prioritization of control, through confinement at the island, has been serving the goal of identification and registration while raising disproportionally the barriers to access international protection and leading to inhumane reception conditions.

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