“The Refugee Crisis of 2015 and its European Management: Experience and Lessons” 10/10/2019

The second session entitled “The Refugee Crisis of 2015 and its European Management: Experience and Lessons” was successfully held in the framework of the Training Seminar “European Management of Migration in the Eastern Mediterranean: The EU, Greece and Turkey.” on October 10th, 2019.

Coordinator of the second seminar was the Assistant Professor of the University of the Aegean and Director of the programme, Mr. Ioannis Stribis. Speakers were Mr. Stefanos Vallianatos, head of the Department of International Relations of the Hellenic Foundation for International Affairs, Mr. Ioannis Karageorgopoulos Vice Admiral of the Coast Guard and Director of the Security and Policing Division, Ms. Zaharoula Tsirigoti, former Lieutenant General of the Hellenic Police and Inspector General of Aliens and Border Protection Division, and Mr. Apostolos Veizis, Program Officer of “Doctors Without Borders”.

The session began with Mr Vallianatos’ presentation, who approached the phenomenon of migration by focusing on the factors behind its creation. He first analyzed the reasons why Greece is a country with increased refugee flows, as well as Europe’s role in enhancing them. He then referred to the complex historical, political, environmental and social factors that affect migration from Middle Eastern countries and pointed to the historical course of individual states, which has led, in many cases, to migration.

Following, Mr. Karageorgopoulos focused on the management and control of the maritime borders of the 2015 refugee crisis. He referred to the difficulty of Greece’s geographical characteristics in managing the migration phenomenon and analyzed in detail the dimension of the 2015 refugee crisis. He, finally, emphasized its response to all the parts involved and the challenges of rescue operations. He summed his speech by outlining some concerns for managing similar crises in the future.

Next speaker, Ms Tsirigoti, provided a historic overview of refugee flows in Greece over the last three decades, with an emphasis on the great refugee crisis of 2015, which increased the number of people crossing the country’s borders by 20 times. She then referred to the difficulties they faced due to inadequate infrastructures of the host country, as well as with the lack of support from Europe, while concluding her presentation by presenting the implications of the EU agreement with Turkey.

The session ended with the presentation of Mr. Veizis. The speaker focused on the medical and humanitarian aspect of dealing with the 2015 crisis, focusing on the effect of policies that followed and their impact on vulnerable people. He went on, by citing important data on refugee mental health and concluded by highlighting the challenges they faced and some suggestions for prevention.

The session ended with participants discussing with the speakers while having the opportunity to ask for clarifications, express concerns and raise questions on the topic. The seminar was hosted at the European Public Law Agency (EPLO) conference hall in Plaka, Athens.

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