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Title:Inequalities in the Common European Asylum System: The role of Greek libraries as information resources in the midst of asylum system shortcomings
Author(s):Ozburn, Lindsay E.
Advisor(s):Santos, Carla
Contributor(s):Rudasill, Lynne M.
Department / Program:Liberal Arts & Sciences
Discipline:European Union Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Common European Asylum System
Asylum system issues
Asylum seekers
European migration
Greek libraries
Information seekers
Abstract:Historically, the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) has proven challenging for the member states on the periphery of the EU – the same member states that are currently experiencing high volumes of asylum seekers. This inability to address the needs of these member states was particularly highlighted in 2015, when Greece burst at the seams from asylum seekers arriving on their shores. To be sure, to date the CEAS has failed Greece, who was unprepared in infrastructure and procedure. With that in mind, and as Europe continues to share the ‘refugee burden’, stymieing migrant flows by any means, Greece represents an illuminating case for examining the competence and effect of this EU-wide asylum system. To that end, in Part I, this thesis completes a textual analysis and historical review of the Common European Asylum System and national policies in Greece. This analysis will address the root cause of the CEAS shortcomings and, with the addition of comparing asylum application data between 2008-2015 to directive and regulation transposition, how national policies transposed it as a result. Findings reveal CEAS’s shortcomings are rooted in its institutional design, creating formation issues. Additionally, finding reveal CEAS’s failure to consider diverse needs (cultural, geographic, and economic) in the current migration crisis has led to implementation challenges. Collectively, CEAS’s shortcomings have created a void that has left more than 60,000 refugees in Greece alone without basic reception conditions or reliable means to apply for asylum. In large part, this void involves a lack of CEAS information resources and information professionals capable of assisting asylum seekers with the paperwork and process required to apply for asylum. Across Europe, this void is being filled by a variety of public service and non-governmental organizations assisting this at-risk population throughout their entire entrance process (asylum application, refugee relocation, and immigrant integration/assimilation). In particular, throughout Northern and Central Europe (i.e., Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria, the UK, and France), public libraries are specifically filling this void by providing a variety of programming initiatives such as conversation based language learning, mentor sessions, increasing vernacular language materials, and assisting with asylum application information when able. As such, Part II of this thesis examines the role public libraries in Greece are currently playing in assisting refugees through any portion of the asylum process. As one of the largest reception countries in Europe, it was presumed Greece would offer similar services as those throughout Northern and Central Europe by utilizing their publically-funded libraries as safe public spaces for refugees. However, findings reveal that, unlike other parts of Europe, refugees do not regularly utilize the public library systems in Greece. I theorize this to be due to mainly three reasons related to geographic distance from detention centers, cultural differences regarding the use of public libraries, and cultural differences regarding the library’s responsibility to these types of patrons. Additionally, due to mandates from the EU as to how aid money should be allocated, severe financial misappropriation is evident in Greece (Howden and Fotiadis, 2017). The routine mishandling of funds exacerbates the resource shortage and creates a false front as to the level of assistance actually reaching asylum seekers. The incorrect presumption of enough aid resources followed by the revelation of this misappropriation no doubt discourages assistance in the future, perpetuating the stereotype that Greece is fiscally irresponsible. Financial misappropriation also consumes much-needed financial resources for other infrastructure projects in the major cities, while also creating an appearance that aid organizations are already filling resource voids since the money has been spent. This is one of many situations in which the lack of CEAS regulation generates a multitude of unforeseen and unintended consequences. This creates an environment in which information resources are scarce and/or inaccessible, and in which libraries now operate to fill this void as a consequence of CEAS shortcomings. This thesis research is the first step in understanding the effects CEAS challenges and shortcomings have had on the functioning of information institutions and professions in Greece in particular, and what this means for the future of librarianship in Europe. The unique and unfortunate set of circumstances surrounding the current migration situation also provide opportunity to learn about the information seeking needs of the at-risk populations impacted by the environment created by CEAS shortcomings, and how to apply the lessons learned here to other instances of mobility, asylum system issues, and information voids.
Issue Date:2017-12-12
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Lindsay Ozburn
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-13
Date Deposited:2017-12

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