Potemkin's Refugee Policy

Commentaries Message Group

Potemkin's Refugee Policy

"By annulling a key element of the EU-Turkey Statement and refusing to accept deported refugees from the Greek islands, the Turkish government is sending a clear, symbolic message that it is finalizing the necessary steps to fully cancel the Statement."

Georg Gassauer
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This commentary reviews the European refugee response one year after the borders along the western Balkan route were sealed and the EU-TR statement was signed. It argues that while official numbers of refugees crossing the Aegean have dropped dramatically, senior policy makers continue to neglect new problems that have arisen as a consequence of these actions. The paper sets out why Europe has not used the last twelve months more effectively to prepare for a new mass migratory movement and moves on to show that these same reasons have ensured that too few resources and too little attention is being committed to improving human security conditions in the refugee camps along the western Balkan route. Exploring how ignoring human error has allowed disillusionment to manifest itself within those that service the policy mechanisms, this essay proves that corrupted data gathering and ultimately flawed policy responses due to a lack of quality management are eroding confidence in government institutions. Finally, the paper concludes with four recommendations for policy makers to be implemented immediately. The paper is based on interviews with stakeholders along the “frontline” of this crisis between Vienna and the Turkish Syrian border town of Kilis.

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