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The human and financial cost of migrant detention in Eastern Europe

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Map posted the 2013/11/25

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  • The human and financial cost of migrant detention in Eastern Europe The human and financial cost of migrant detention in Eastern Europe


“The admission of new EU Member States in 2004 and 2007 and the integration of some of them in the Schengen area in December 2007, moved the EU’s external borders further eastward. Within the framework of the accession process of these new Member States, the EU promoted and supported policies aimed at migrant identification, detention and removal. It also financed projects aimed at increasing the detention capacities of camps located on the other side of its external border.

This was particularly the case in Ukraine and Turkey. The geographical locations of these countries mean that their European neighbours have given almost absolute priority to the control of migrations in these regions… The EU started to provide financial and operational support to Turkey within the framework of an uncertain accession process and to Ukraine as part of its “neighbourhood policy”.

Massive amounts of money were given to support the control and “management” of migrants transiting through Ukraine, including to build new detention centres for migrants… Although NGOs denounced numerous violations of migrants and asylum seekers’ rights (prolonged detention in unacceptable conditions, violence, forced returns, violation of the principle of non-refoulement, etc.), the EU has increased the technical support provided to Ukraine to strengthen border controls and detention capacities. Two projects were recently launched:  “GDISC-Ukraine – Capacity Building and Technical Support to Ukrainian authorities to effectively respond to irregular transit migration” in February 2008[1] and ERIT (Irregular Transit-Migration) in June 2008…

Relations between the EU and Turkey illustrate the same trend… Two “twinning projects” were launched in 2005 within the framework of a national plan for the integration of European acquis in the field of asylum and migration. One project concerns the construction of two new detention centres in Erzurum and Ankara, on the same model as existing centres in Turkey, for a total budget of 19 Million EUR of which 15 Million was donated by the EU. This is a new example of the exportation of systems for migrant detention, the “burden” of which is borne by the EU’s neighbours, while Europe pays little attention to migrants’ living conditions and respect for their rights.

Extract from MIGREUROP, “Atlas des migrants en Europe. Géographie critique des politiques migratoires” (Atlas on Migrants in Europe. Critical geography of migration policies), Armand Colin, September 2009, pp. 77-79 (in French only).

[1] This project aims to support Ukraine’s “migration management” system, in particular the strengthening of its asylum and immigration policy:



Date(s) of publication: 2009
Author(s): Migreurop
Credits: Atlas des Migrants en Europe. Géographie critique des politiques migratoires