Migration Media Award: First Place, Print Category, English
Author: Daniel Trilling
Media: London Review of Books
Date of Publication: 8/10/2015
Title: What to Do with the People Who do Make it Across?
Short summary: This article, published in October 2015, was the first comprehensive survey and analysis in English of Europe’s refugee crisis. It sought to make a distinction between the acute displacement of Syrians and other refugees, a phenomenon largely taking place outside Europe, and a crisis of European border policy. The latter – characterised by dysfunctional and inconsistent asylum reception procedures within the EU, and the closing off of safe and legal routes to asylum from outside the EU – was identified as a significant factor in the chaos and death at Europe’s borders. The first part of this article was based on extensive documentary research, pulling together official figures from agencies like the UNHCR and describing the structure of European border policies. The second part examined the varying motivations that asylum-seekers had for travelling to and within Europe. This drew on my reporting from various locations in Europe: since 2012, I have been investigating the conditions for refugees in countries including Greece, Bulgaria, France, Italy, the UK, Germany and Ukraine. (My articles have been published in a range of international outlets, including the Guardian, Al Jazeera English, New Statesman and London Review of Books and are collected at trillingual.tumblr.com.) To gather the stories of the people I mention in this article, I had to variously: sneak into closed detention centres and camps in Greece and Bulgaria, win the trust of migrants and activists living in a squat in Calais, and follow people over long distances as they crossed from southern to northern Europe. This overview piece was the culmination of three years research and travel, often carried out on a low budget and dependent on insecure freelance commissions.
Since the civil war in Syria began in 2011, more than 12 million people have been displaced by the fighting, 4.1 million of whom have fled the country. The flow of refugees from Syria has been constant, but there have been two great surges in the past four years.