European Institute for Asian Studies
EU Migration and Refugee Crisis: Remedies from Asia

EU Migration and Refugee Crisis: Remedies from Asia

In light of the migration and asylum seekers related challenges faced by European Policy makers, EIAS, utilising its reservoir of knowledge of Asia, has commissioned a series of reports and events in order to provide perspectives from the Asian experience with similar issues. Whether irregular migration, high skilled labour movements, asylum seekers or return migrants looking to supplement their incomes through short term seasonal contracts, Asia hosts 20% of international migrants in the world, and thus policymakers across Asia have had to come up with creative and pragmatic solutions with meagre resources and severe political constraints — scenarios not too dissimilar to ones facing the EU. The project focuses, amongst other solutions, on the scope of cooperation between sending, transit and receiving countries. Not utilising tried and tested policy tools is a mistake: EIAS can fill this gap.

EIAS has published three reports in the context of this project:

Labour Market Access for Asylum Seekers: The Asian Experience

More and more, European governments are working to thwart the journeys of those intending to reach their territory. Border controls and strict residency laws ensure that most asylum seekers are excluded from legal channels and from full participation in local society. This social exclusion encourages them to accept greater risks to resolve their situation. Judging from their approach, European policymakers seem to have not analysed the experiences of other nations that have faced similar predicaments. Syrians and Afghanis – alongside Iraqis – constitute the largest proportions of first time asylum seekers in the EU. However, the experience of most EU member states of hosting these nationalities is a recent one. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), neighbouring countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have hosted more than a million asylum seekers and refugees each. Countries like Lebanon and Iran have been hosting millions of asylum seekers, refugees and irregular migrants for many years. Thus, the economic conditions of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in these countries are a telling parable for policymakers in the EU.

The objective of each country analysis is to give a sense of the legal and economic evolution of the asylum process: legal context for access to the labour market, developments and profile of recent refugee flows, approach by authorities, patterns of refugee recognition, policies and measures to integrate refugees into the labour market, legal and institutional issues and obstacles.

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Irregular Migration, Refugees and Informal Labour Markets in the EU: The rise of European Sweatshops?

This report seeks to clarify the various perspectives at play in the construction of the informal migration industry — the relationship between irregular migration and the informal economy — and then to build up a picture of the various social processes involved, before finally suggesting prospective areas of policy intervention in this arena. The condition of Afghan asylum seekers in the EU is presented as an illustration. The main takeaway from the report is that ineffective integration of the new arrivals risks the creation of European sweatshops.

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Irregular Punjabi Migration into Belgium: Case Study

Diverse categories of people partake in the phenomenon of irregular migration making use of different networks to reach their destination countries. The patterns of irregularity as well as other observable and unobservable factors also vary. However, some common features can be found in the Punjabi case, such as gullible youth obsessed with foreign countries, neither highly educated nor skilled, and networks of intermediaries who allure them, charge heavy amount of money and attempt to send them abroad in a clandestine manner. The potential migrants consider other successful expats from their neighbourhood or acquaintances as their role models.

This report is a case study on Punjabi irregular migration into Belgium and will use this specific sample to evaluate the Belgian migration policy regime. Punjabis see Belgium as an ideal destination from an economic and geographical standpoint. This, along with the almost fanatical need to go abroad amongst young Punjabis, fuels a persistent flow of migrants. The Punjabi case is a telling parable for policy makers in Belgium and the EU to understand the nature of migration policy and its unintended effects.

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European Institute for Asian Studies

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