The European Union’s Response to Smuggling of Syrian Asylum Seekers


asylum seekers
human smuggling
human trafficking
organised crime
civil war


Although the European Union’s recent focus has been on human trafficking and its human rights implications, insufficient attention has been devoted to the phenomenon of refugee smuggling, which has been exacerbated by the outbreak of civil war in Syria in 2011. This study investigates the implications of the post-2010 EU anti-smuggling norms and strategies on refugee rights. It focuses on the specific case of Syrians, as they constitute the largest refugee group fleeing into Europe. Along with the available literature, data for this study was collected through a survey of 16 Syrian refugees currently residing in the EU. Firstly, the article presents the modus operandi pertinent to refugee smuggling networks to give an overview of the dimension of the phenomenon. Secondly, by observing the experience of Syrian refugees as they are smuggled across borders, the study highlights practices of pushbacks, inefficient border identifications, prolonged arrests, and the lack of legal means to access the EU territory. To conclude, the study advocates for initiatives to prevent Syrians from colliding with the explored harsh reality and halt smugglers from making a profit out of asylum seekers’ dire conditions.
Copyright (c) 2023 The Journal of Law, Social Justice and Global Development


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