Reshaping humanitarian intervention in Greece: Exploring everyday practices in Tilos and Athens

Elena Bonanini

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD-Thesis - Research and graduation internal

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This dissertation focuses on the reconfiguration of bordering and migration practices in Greece triggered by the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement in March 2016 as a culmination of a series of political decisions on migrations aimed to address what was labelled a ‘refugee crisis’ in 2015. Such measures form part of the EU’s migration management, through practices of securitization of borders and humanitarian intervention. One of the consequences resulting from these political decisions is that a division was created between individuals who had reached Greece prior to that date and those who arrived afterwards. This division subjected migrants to distinct border and mobility regimes that materialized as different levels of access to the international protection system and the kind of humanitarian assistance envisaged by the Statement. I approached the topic by examining the humanitarian intervention provided to newcomers, utilizing as an observation point a local non-governmental organization to explore how the measures are translated on the ground into the daily practices of humanitarian care. Building on the differing management of migration systems generated by the new measure according to geographical location – mainland and islands – I conducted my fieldwork research between April 2018 and May 2019 on a small southeastern Aegean island, Tilos, and in Athens on the mainland, in an accommodation facility and a centre that provides integrated services respectively. The findings collected in both field sites ultimately indicate that the ‘refugee crisis’, attributed to the numerous arrivals, materializes instead in the reception system and the way in which migration is managed.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Dalakoglou, Dimitris, Supervisor
  • Sinatti, Giulia, Co-supervisor
Award date7 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2022


  • Humanitarianism, EU-Turkey Statement, migration crisis, refugees, migration management, Greece


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