Thirty-eight Syrian migrants were found stranded on a tiny island along the border between Turkey and Greece. They’d been on the island for about a month, and part of why they were there for so long was because Turkey and Greece were debating who should be responsible for taking them in. Based on the initially reported coordinates, Greek authorities said they were in Turkish territory. Those coordinates were actually about 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) away from where they were eventually found.
The bigger picture here is that Europe has been dealing with an immigration crisis. Thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa try to cross illegally into Greece from Turkey every year, seeking asylum in Europe and, hopefully, a better life. But, the EU (plus a few non-EU countries in Europe) has a law called the Dublin Regulation, which says that, typically, migrants seeking asylum should be processed in the country they land in when they enter Europe. The problem here is that this burden tends to fall the hardest on countries closer to where the migrants are coming from with disproportionate responsibility, leading to these countries arguing about who is responsible for dealing with refugees.
Previously, many of these refugees came from the Middle East, primarily Syria and, more recently, Afghanistan. But now, many of them are coming from Ukraine, too. And, we’re seeing some countries showing support for Ukrainian refugees in ways that they usually don’t for Syrian refugees. Still, you probably hear talk about “Ukraine fatigue” because that could make it harder to solve the problem of Ukrainian refugees, much as it has for Syrians.
One of the women stranded on the island, Baida, said that they felt it was like “a football game between the two sides” of Greece and Turkey. “No-one wants us. No-one hears us. No-one wants to help,” she said.
“The objective of the Dublin III Regulation is to ensure quick access to the asylum procedures and the examination of an application on the merits by a single, clearly determined EU country,” wrote the European Commission. “The Regulation establishes the Member State responsible for the examination of the asylum application.”
“Given the sociopolitical upheavals that ensued after 1 million refugees, mostly Syrians, arrived on Europe’s shores in 2015, the EU and UK might be expected to be better prepared this time,” wrote Simon Tisdall in an op-ed for The Guardian last month. “Yet plainly they’re not.”