The Syrian war and its impact on migration

Richard Sondeijker, Netherlands Ministry of Justice and Security and Faculty of Law, Maastricht University

The Syrian civil war erupted in 2011. Different factions, such as secular Syrians, Islamist radicals and Sunni jihadists, have combatted the Syrian army and its allies. The war fuelled a massive exodus. Millions of Syrians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries and asked for asylum in EU member states.

For years there were signs that a migration crisis was building. In the summer of 2015, the number of sea arrivals from Turkey to Greece rose exponentially, followed by mass movements to a wide range of EU member states. The EU took a number of actions to tackle this unprecedented influx of migrants crossing EU’s external borders.

Human trafficking and human smuggling were at the heart of the criminal gangs surrounding the migration crisis. Migrants often found themselves subjected to forced labour or sexual exploitation.

Among the migrant arrivals in the EU was a group of young Syrian girls who have presented EU member states with a major dilemma: they were married.

Topics addressed at the seminar will include: the migrant crisis, EU’s response to the migrant crisis,  human trafficking and smuggling, the causes and effects of early marriages as well as EU countries’ policies and measures on refugee child brides.



About the speaker

Mr Sondeijker is a PhD candidate at Maastricht University (Law Faculty/Department of Criminal Law and Criminology). His PhD thesis addresses Early Marriages among Syrian Refugees in the European Union. He is a lawyer (he received his law degree at Maastricht University).

Richard Sondeijker works as a Coordinating Strategic Advisor on International Affairs for the Netherlands Ministry of Justice and Security. He is an expert on fighting Human Trafficking with many years of professional experience in the Netherlands, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkan region. He worked, for instance, for the OSCE in Kosovo as Head of OSCE’s Anti-trafficking Unit in Pristina, was advisor on anti-trafficking and refugee law to the Albanian Minister of Interior, and has acted as a consultant on anti-trafficking to several governments and international organisations.



Date: 20 March 2019

Time: 13:00 - 14:00


UNU-MERIT