A South American Migration Crisis: Venezuelan Outflows Test Neighbors’ Hospitality [article]

Synopsis

It is increasingly evident that the Venezuelan exodus that began in 2014 is now the fastest-escalating displacement of people across borders in Latin American history. The deepening political, economic, and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has led to the mass movement of people across the region—mostly to Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru—and beyond. Estimates of Venezuelans on the move are imprecise, but range from 1.6 million to 4 million people abroad as of early 2018. Hundreds of thousands more have left in the first half of the year, and the numbers keep climbing—outpacing earlier humanitarian flows from Central America, Colombia, and Cuba. Some experts predict the displacement could surpass the 5.6 million Syrians who have fled that country’s civil war.

This article examines the characteristics of Venezuelan migrants based on the latest data available, before discussing how governments in the region have responded to the inflow and what the crisis means in the context of shifting Latin American immigration laws.

The article is co-written with Dr. Luisa Feline Freier at the Universidad del Pacifico (Political and Social Sciences) in Lima, Peru.

Availability

The article is published (18.07.2018) through the online journal of the Migration Policy Institute: Migration Information Source. It can be read here.MPI logo

Four voices of refugee solidarity along the Balkan Route: An exploratory pilot study on motivations for mobilisation

Investigation details

During the months of November and December 2016, I travelled across one of the most common paths along the ‘Balkan Route’; the migration route made infamous during the 2015 European Migration Crisis. The desire to pursue this field investigation emerged as a result of several factors. Most notably, while living in Turkey, I had the chance to meet incredible refugee solidarity activists from every corner of Europe and beyond. They had come to Turkey to lend a hand in response to the mass influx of forced migrants from the Middle East and North Africa. Simultaneously, media outlets sensationalized the crisis while political discourse managed to wedge itself as a divisive force to which citizens could latch onto. The voice of host community residents and refugees was nearly absent in all of this. Being part of several broad and organized activist networks, I knew that a great deal of solidarity with migrants and refugees existed within the Balkans. I was curious, however, as to how this solidarity materialized in situ, and how people with no prior interest in migration or experience with activism decide to become engaged with refugee solidarity actions.

In total, 32 individuals in six countries were interviewed over a six week period (see map below).

CityPlaza
Hotel City Plaza (Athens, Greece), an abandoned hotel turned into a free housing complex for refugees. For more information, visit: https://best-hotel-in-europe.eu. (Source: Parent, 2016)
Velles
Train tracks passing through Veles (Macedonia), one of the hotspots of humanitarian response during the 2015 European Migration Crisis. (Source: Parent, 2016)
SavamalaMapCropped
Area map of central Savamala (Belgrade, Serbia), an area with a high concentration of informal refugee settlements. Mapping based on field observations and interviews conducted. (Source: Parent, 2016)
Barracks
Inside the ‘Barracks’, an informal refugee settlement (Savamala, Belgrade, Serbia). (Source: Parent, 2016)

 

Investigation output: Migration Letters

Title

Four voices of refugee solidarity along the Balkan Route: An exploratory pilot study on motivations for mobilisation

Abstract

MigrationLettersScathing critiques of the European response to what has been widely called a ‘refugee crisis’ are not in short supply. However, as many activist mobilisations and solidarities emerged along the Balkan Route, this is only one facet of the European response to forced migration. Having interviewed four migration activists from four countries along this route – Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary – this exploratory pilot study sought to investigate possible motivational factors for mobilisation in light of the fact that the participants had no prior experience in activism nor interest in the politics of migration prior to the European migration crisis. Through content analysis of interview transcripts, two factors emerged as having potential implications for mobilisation: media coverage and visibility of refugees. Hence, theories about the media effect and intergroup contact are used to explicate the findings. Possible future research avenues are proposed.

Keywords

refugees, perception, media, intergroup relations, mobilisation, activism, Balkans.

Availability

This article can be in Migration Letters vol. 15, no. 3 (pp. 423-436). Currently, the article is not open access. Please feel free to contact me.

 

Turkish perceptions of risk vis-à-vis Syrian refugees: An exploratory study of cultural cognition in Izmir, Turkey

Abstractjims

This exploratory research seeks to investigate the risk perception of Turkish citizen’s vis-à-vis Syrian refugees, utilising cultural cognition as a theoretical sounding board. Delimited to the city of Izmir, the aims of this research were to ascertain what perceived risks Syrian refugees pose onto Turkish society, how these perceptions relate to worldview adherences amongst Turkish citizens, and what psychological processes may explain the development of such perceptions. Employing a mixed-methods approach, triangulation of both news article and focus group content analyses identified five commonly perceived risks relating to Syrian refugee entry into Turkey: employment, inflow, social, political and security. This information informed the design of a survey instrument, of which was used to compare worldview adherences to perceptions of said risks and demographic characteristics. For two of the five risks, results showed that egalitarians perceived the refugees as a higher risk than those with hierarchist identities. It was also found that individuals with higher levels of education and employment were more likely to perceive Syrian refugees as a risk to Turkish society. As a starting point to explore the development of such perceptions of risk, the processes of identity-protective cognition, reactive devaluation, self-censorship, and optimism bias were used to tentatively explicate the data.

Keywords

risk perception, refugees, identity, cultural cognition, psychology, Turkey

Availability

The article can be read in the Journal of Identity and Migration Studies (vol. 12, no. 1: 2-25), or can be viewed and downloaded here.