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KU expert can discuss European migration issues

Thursday, August 27, 2015

LAWRENCE — The New York Times reported Thursday that police in Austria discovered bodies of about 50 apparent migrants inside an abandoned truck.

Austrian authorities have contacted Hungarian officials because the Eastern European nation is building a wall along its border with Serbia to attempt to control the recent flow of immigrants who have worked their way up the Balkans.

A University of Kansas expert on immigration and human trafficking is available to discuss the issues surrounding the smuggling of migrants across borders and policies of European nations on these issues.

Nazli Avdan, assistant professor of political science, has researched human trafficking and the unintended consequences of border controls. Her broad research focus includes international migration and international relations. She has published articles in the Journal of Public Policy, Journal of Conflict Resolution and European Union Politics about issues surrounding border controls and how countries control their own visa processes, human trafficking and how asylum recognition rates in Europe respond to terrorism.

"Hungary's recent endeavors to quickly construct a fence across its border showcases that Europe has no concerted or coordinated plan in mind when coping with involuntary migration," Avdan said. "Not only are countries enacting unilateral measures, but they are also doing this in a haphazard manner. The effectiveness of fences aside, this has the undesirable consequence of eroding the humanitarian principles that Europe has traditionally cherished when grappling with refugees."

She said most European nations today treat immigration policy under principles derived from the Geneva Convention post-World War II.

"As a consequence, it neglects migrants that flee situations that imperil survival through anything other than discrimination or civil strife. For example, environmental degradation and severe poverty are not taken into account," Avdan said. "Those fleeing these situations are treated as economic migrants, which carries the stigma of being opportunists."

To arrange an interview with Avdan, contact George Diepenbrock at gdiepenbrock@ku.edu or 785-864-8853.