The EU's proxy war on refugees

2019-06-20T15:40:55Z (GMT) by Helen Hintjens Ali Bilgic
For decades, European Union (EU) member states have fought an illegal proxy war – a form of state crime – against refugees and migrants, far beyond EU external borders. Fatalities make this proxy war equivalent to international classifications of war. To justify this war, migrants have progressively been reclassified by the EU as “illegal” or criminal. This article situates the proxy war within wider deterrence-based EU migration policies. Examples like the 2008–2009 Italy–Libya deal and 2016 EU–Turkey deal show the high price paid by refugees, minorities and the damage to the EU’s own stability and reputation. Forcibly confining people at “holding points” along migratory routes, expelling people to unsafe countries and raising barriers to legal movement, the violence of the proxy war became more visible in 2015. We conclude that far from counteracting the dynamics of mass displacement, the proxy war may have contributed to the recent crisis of refugee reception in Europe.