The ‘Crises’ of Lesbos



Since 2015 hundreds of thousands of migrants have arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos, many fleeing war and poverty, others hoping to find work in Europe and give their children a better future. The arrival of migrants on Lesbos was accompanied by an influx of ‘humanitarian pilgrims’: hordes of journalists, celebrities, academic researchers and volunteers for diverse NGOs. Because the migrants arrived in such large numbers in 2015, they became part of the daily reality of both the local residents and officials at different levels of authority, from local municipalities to EU representatives. The migrants’ arrival on the island was presented in the media both as a historic event and an urgent public problem. The term ‘refugee crisis’ was born. Although its importance and urgency was widely recognized by policymakers, the inability of European and local institutions to manage the influx of migrants in this time of crisis soon became obvious. This ‘unmanageable’ situation, which demanded quick and creative solutions, involved responding to the suffering of the migrants who needed ‘to be managed’, and appealing to the local people’s solidarity and hospitality. The announcement that hundreds of thousands of refugees were arriving on the shores of Greece came at a time when the country was facing severe political and economic problems. The question is when is something ‘announced’ as a crisis and by whom, and which parties define and create a specific public problem and also suggest solutions and remedies. Based on an empirical case study in Greece, this contribution reflects on the concept of ‘Crisis’ from an interdisciplinary perspective, including a historical, philosophical and sociological understanding of its use in the refugee context.


  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 4
  • Page/Article: 10–18
  • DOI: 10.36633/ulr.745
  • Published on 15 Feb 2022
  • Peer Reviewed