Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Wendy Lower

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This thesis examines factors that enabled the influx of Syrian refugees to the European Union and traces their plight in Europe as one of the greatest humanitarian crises since World War II. The migration of refugees to European countries is a result of Syrians facing religious, racial, and social persecution, and immediate danger from proximity to on the ground conflict in Syria. The Syrian refugee crisis in Europe is occurring, in part, because there is a concentrated effort on behalf of Member States to change the definition of displacement to fit narratives more conducive to each countries’ individual preferences. European political agendas, which are increasingly influenced by populist opinions, often frame refugees in an unfavorable light and are supported through state-sponsored propaganda that promotes xenophobic sentiments. European anti-immigrant sentiments and prejudices fuel further unwillingness to allow “others,” including those fleeing direct danger, into “their” countries and societies. While the registering and processing of migrants is a difficult yet manageable task for Europe’s southeastern countries, the struggle to carry out these tasks has been exacerbated by fear and distrust of refugees combined with the lack of support and financial aid from the rest of Europe. This thesis is supported by data collected in public opinion polls, country case studies of mass media coverage (newspapers and social media images), and a survey of the international humanitarian law that should be upheld by the member states of the European Union.