Hopes and fears : the case of Georgian asylum seekers in the EU
Abstract: Since March 2017, when the EC allowed visa-free travel to the Schengen area for Georgian citizens, the member states warned about the sharp and continuous rise in the number of unfounded asylum seekers from Georgia. It became the subject of active discussion at the political level, as the visa-waiver deal with the EU is an important aspect of EU-Georgia relations. Even though the rising number of Georgian asylum seekers is high on the political agenda, there is a lack of qualitative understanding of the reasons for asylum flow. Utilizing a qualitative method, this thesis responds to the urgent need to increase the understanding of why Georgians are seeking asylum from the viewpoint of the asylum seekers themselves. Guided by Robinson and Segrott’s (2002) model, this study indicates that Georgian asylum seekers’ decisions to leave the home country are very complex based on growing fears of being subjected to threats to their safety, discrimination, and violence, and hopes for improving their lives. Additionally, while Georgian asylum seekers are active agents in their decision-making, their choices of destination are influenced by the structural factors, such as visa-free travel, social networks, knowledge, and policy measures, which do not totally individualise their decisions.
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