HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, HSPH; Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer in Law, HLS


On September 23, 2020, the European Commission released its draft Pact on Asylum and Migration. The timing was not coincidental. Just two weeks earlier, on September 8, 2020, Moria camp, Europe’s first migrant “hotspot” and its largest refugee camp, had burned to the ground. In the five years since its opening, on the small Greek island of Lesvos, barely four miles off the coast of Turkey, the camp had become a symbol of the failure of European Union (EU) migration policy. It showcased the trudge to Europe for over one million Syrian and other distress migrants, forced to endure life-threatening journeys to seek safety. It also shone a grim spotlight on dramatic failures in refugee protection and basic human rights enforcement in the humanitarian response taking place at the heart of the wealthy Global North. These failures included the rejection of responsibility to accept a share of asylum seekers by a growing number of EU members; the adoption of draconian border exclusion policies, including inhumane push-backs out to sea; and an acceptance of degrading and inhumane camp conditions threatening the basic safety and health of inhabitants.


Digidiki, Vasileia, and Jacqueline Bhabha. "EU Migration Pact Fails to Address Human Rights Concerns in Lesvos, Greece." Health and Human Rights 22.2 (December 2020): 291–296.