refugees with life vests in a boat

How to reduce harm to migrants and refugees

A Practitioner's Solution for Europe's Migration Challenge

January 2016, Zahl 07.01

“In the past couple of decades, refugees and economic migrants originating from Africa and Asia have surged toward Greece and Europe. Going back to 1994, when I was an ensign of the Hellenic Coast Guard, I dealt with refugees and economic migrants on Lesvos Island, 10 nautical miles from the Turkish coast. Most of the mixed migratory flows consisted of economic migrants, not refugees. At that time, economic migrants were entering Greece illegally from Iran, Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan. Refugees were largely Hutus and Tutsis, the two tribes in conflict in the Rwandan civil war.

The situation remained largely unchanged for several years, but after 2000, civil wars and political-religious persecutions boosted the number of refugees arriving. In 2011, after the Arab Spring and the start of the civil wars in Syria and Libya, the number of refugees targeting Europe sharply increased. Today, refugees represent a majority of these mixed migratory flows.

Migration as a phenomenon is not new; it has been ongoing for thousands of years and will likely continue for various reasons: civil wars, persecutions, poverty and natural catastrophes...”

Excerpt from Kostas Karagatsos, “A Practitioner's Solution to Europe's Migration Challenge,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 7, No. 1, 2016: 18-21.

Kostas Karagatsos is a retired Hellenic Coast Guard commodore and a BORDERPOL associate member since April 2015. He has over 20 years of experience in migration, sea border management and security matters. He participated in Frontex feasibility studies for the creation of a European Patrols Network in the Mediterranean and for the establishment of a European surveillance system.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.