The International Humanitarian Response to the Refugee Crisis Along the Balkan Route in the View of Strategies of International Organizations

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Abstract

Being one of the largest movements of displaced people through European borders since World War Two, the Syrian refugee crisis of 2015 and 2016, tested the coordination of the states and international organizations, and as well as the strategies for response of the latter to such enormous fluxes of displaced people along the Balkan corridor. The quick on-time reaction of the specialized humanitarian international organizations made significant achievements by the international organizations in terms of humanitarian assistance for the refugees and support for the governments of the region. Their approach mainly sought to create a partnership with the governments of the Balkan route in handling the serious humanitarian challenges (with a different strategy compared to other experiences, mainly this time through providing assistance and protection to the refugees throughout the corridor of the refugee crisis), it showed how important is such coordination at the end, with an aim to avoid further human catastrophes along refugee routes, and to avoid major security repercussions for the countries of the region.

With a comparative approach, the paper analyzes the response of the international organizations in terms of the strategies they have applied along the Balkan human corridor and their new innovative approaches used in terms of the coordination with the local authorities and governments of the Balkan route. Different to previous forms of humanitarian interventions and dynamics of the refugee crisis (dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1990s), the roles of the international organizations along the Balkan human corridor following the Syrian war of 2015 and 2016 have shaped many innovative dimensions, including firstly their advising orientation and support for refugees and local authorities (mainly through providing help on legal issues). Apart from humanitarian activities for delivering direct aid, the major intergovernmental organizations (most of them operating under the umbrella of the UN) following the implementation of border controls from very beginning of the refugee crisis have been focused in supporting the local authorities as well as on regulating the flow of migrants. The strategies of response by the international organizations in the latest case of the Balkan human corridor notably shifted from the classical humanitarian dimension of their reactions. These strategies have played as well an important role in advising, and especially in developing a partnership with the local authorities capacity building and legal support for both local institutions and refugees. However, through the comparative approaches the paper identifies that there are different models of management roles played by the specialized international organizations in various countries of the Balkan route and its frontiers.

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