The Threat of Destitution as a Deterrent against Asylum Seeking in the European Union

Sylvie Da Lomba


The problematization of asylum has detrimentally impacted on the provision of support for asylum seekers in host countries. The threat of destitution has become instrumental in restrictive asylum policies and is increasingly used as a deterrent against asylum seeking. The EU experience reveals acute tensions between the EU asylum agenda and the EU Member States’ obligations under international refugee and human rights law. The provision of support for asylum seekers challenges narrow approaches to the realization of socio-economic rights for “others” and to host countries’ duties in that respect. The EU Reception Conditions Directive, which aims to set out standards for the reception of asylum seekers across the Union, exemplifies this predicament. Yet international refugee and human rights law provides a legal framework that establishes minimum standards critical to dignified living for asylum seekers and the protection of the right to seek refugee status in the EU and beyond.

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