| Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy
 

Public Debate: “Unravelling the Eastern Mediterranean Migration Crisis”, 15/06/2016

20151014-refugee-crisisOn the occasion of the completion of the field research in the frame of the research project entitled “Unravelling the Eastern Mediterranean Refugee Route”, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) organised a workshop entitled ‘Unravelling the Eastern Mediterranean Refugee Route: Emerging findings and policy implications of the MEDMIG research’ on Wednesday 15 June 2016, from 9:30 to 13:00. The aim of the workshop was to present the findings of MEDMIG research project on the same subject, and to provide a ground for discussion among representatives of governmental and non-governmental actors. The video of the event is available here: Part I, Part II

The “Unravelling the Mediterranean Migration Crisis” (MEDMIG) research project explores the factors, opportunities and constraints that shape the decision of individuals and families to abandon their homes and migrate to Europe. Its aim is to a) better understand the causes behind the recent unprecedented levels of migration across the Mediterranean; b) map the interaction of migrants with a multitude of non-state actors (for example ‘smugglers’ and NGOs) and state actors (for example navy / coastguard); c) explore the relevant opportunities and constraints that migrants face in countries of origin and refuge/transit; and d) provide a robust evidence base to inform the development of policy responses by governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental actors. The research was undertaken in 9 sites in four countries: Italy and Malta (Central Mediterranean route) and Greece and Turkey (Eastern Mediterranean route), and a total of 500 interviews with refugees and migrants have been conducted. MEDMIG research project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the United Kingdom, under the ESRC Strategic Urgency Grants scheme. The Coordinator of the research project is the University of Coventry.

 A few key points from the research findings presented at the event can be highlighted:

  • The nationality composition of flows to Greece remained largely consistent but there was a significant increase in the proportion of women and children  during  2015 (60% of those arriving in 2016) which reflects secondary flows and efforts to reunite families
  • 90% of those arriving in Greece in 2015 came from just three countries – Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq – countries is which there is well-documented conflict, political unrest and human rights abuse. This is reflected in the data collected from interviewees. We interviewed 215 refugees and migrants in Greece (Athens and Mytilini, Lesvos), 89% of whom said that they had been forced to leave their countries of origin
  • Circumstances vary by country of origin and also gender and ageà Syria (conflict, ISIS, kidnappings), Afghanistan (conflict, Taliban, ISIS, military conscription in Iran), Eritrea (forced conscription), Iraq (conflict, ISIS)
  • Nearly a third (29%) of respondents talked about ISIS / Daesh
  • Although the increase in the scale of flows is partly explained by the deteriorating situation in Syria, the drivers of migration to Europe are complex and multi-faceted
  • Complex relationship and overlap between ‘forced’ and ‘economic’ drivers of migration are a key finding of our research across both Eastern and Central Mediterranean Routes
  • In terms of destination country, nearly a fifth of those interviewed in Greece did not know which country they wanted to go to or were heading to ‘Europe’. Among the others a total of 24 different countries were mentioned as potential destination countries. Many people mentioned multiple destinations i.e. no single ‘choice’ of country
  • Germany was the country with the highest proportion of mentions (32%), followed by Sweden (12%), the UK (6%), Switzerland (4%), Denmark and Norway (both 3%). The main factors for the countries mentioned were access to protection / residence permit and opportunities to secure employment
  • Nearly two thirds (59%) of those interviewed had pre-existing contacts (family members or friends) in the country of destination
  • There is evidence that refugees and migrants have only partial information about migration policies in particular countries and that decisions about where to go are made ad hoc, along the route and more often based on a number of intervening variables and opportunities
  • The average duration of journey varies by route à much quicker in the Eastern than Central Mediterranean Route with 57% of journeys to Greece taking less than 3 months cf. 16% of journeys to Italy
  • The average duration of journey to Greece varies significantly by country of origin e.g Iraqis 1.4 months compared with Afghans 78.9 months

For further information, please contact the ELIAMEP researchers, Dia Anagnostou (anagnostou.eliamep@gmail.com) and Dimitris Skleparis (skleparis@eliamep.gr)

 
 
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