Flüchtlingslager an Europas Grenzen - Was können wir aus ihrer Entwicklung (ver)lernen?

Migration Department

Project head: Dr. Ramona RischkeDr. Zeynep Yanaşmayan

Project team members: Aurelia Streit

Running time April 2021 until March 2023
Status Completed project

In 2019, an estimated 62 million people were living in refugee camps worldwide (UNHCR 2019). Refugee camps are places planned by humanitarian missions (usually the UN) and usually protected by the armed forces of the host country. The function of such camps is to provide refugees with shelter during an acute crisis, as well as food, medical care and other basic services. Refugee camps are defined as temporary structures, but often become de facto permanent places to live. With the increasing average duration of humanitarian crises, refugee and other reception camps are rarely closed - sometimes residents remain for decades, for example in the camps of Dadaab (Kenya) or Shatila (Lebanon). Within Europe, the refugee camp "Moria" in Greece quickly developed into the largest reception camp and so-called migration hotspot in the EU. The camp, which opened in 2015 and was designed for 2,800 people, was temporarily home to 20,000 people. Due to overcrowding, conditions in the camp were catastrophic for years (IOM 2020; Schülke-Gill 2020). Since the burning of Moria in September 2020, the question has increasingly arisen as to what lessons can be learned from this drastic experience for reception camps in Europe and the reality of life for those seeking protection and migrants in these camps. At the end of 2020, the situation for migrants and refugees from North and West Africa also began to escalate on the Canary Islands, and within a few months the number of arrivals rose from 2,680 to 23,000 (Euronews 2021). In the media as well as in the Canary Islands and other European civil societies, comparisons with Moria or Lampedusa have often been drawn with reference to the conditions in the reception centres.

The project uses an exploratory case study on the Canary Islands to examine the situation of reception centres in Europe in order to work out what role the spatial situation in the reception centres plays in the reality of migrants' and refugees' lives and their migration processes. The study is based on two pillars that are mutually dependent and influence each other: the spatial and the governance aspects of reception centres at Europe's external borders.

The first pillar deals with the spatial situations and relationships in reception centres. Through qualitative field research, the spatial conditions in, around and outside the reception centres will be illuminated. The project uses different methodological approaches to investigate the extent to which spatial dimensions of reception camps influence the general living conditions of migrants. These spatial aspects can influence not only the reality of life, but also further mobility aspirations, which will also be explored.

The second pillar focuses on the implementation of multi-level migration governance in the specific case of the Canary Islands. Interviews with experts will be conducted to understand and contrast the multitude of actors involved in the organisation of the reception centres in order to understand the interactions between migration policy, planning and decision-making in the reception centres.

Funding: Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Institutional funding)

Cooperation partner:

Local research partner on the Canary Island of Tenerife: Observatorio de la Inmigración de Tenerife (OBITen) (http://obiten.com/)