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Humanitarian space and the migrant crisis in Europe

Groupe URD is beginning a new research project which aims to outline humanitarian space in relation to the migrant crisis in Europe. The study will provide insight into the way different aid actors have adapted to restrictive socio-political contexts, sometimes compromising certain basic humanitarian values and standards. An initial case study will begin in summer 2017 and will focus on two contexts in France: the border between France and Italy and “greater Paris”.

What are the limits and nature of humanitarian space in a context of increasingly restrictive national policies? What innovative solutions and practices exist for the aid response in an environment that is more restrictive but also a source of new initiatives? These are the two guiding questions that this study will attempt to answer via a number of case studies.

The proposed research project will aim to establish the contours of humanitarian space in the current context of migration in Europe. It will:

  • Identify the priority humanitarian needs of refugees and migrants in different situations (inside and outside camps, in two or three different countries), and the resulting humanitarian shortcomings and gaps;
  • Highlight tensions regarding humanitarian values and standards (humanitarian principles, Code of Conduct, CHS);
  • Assess the possible ways in which practitioners can position themselves in a highly politicized, and therefore constrained context.
  • Analyse the way the landscape has evolved and the dynamics between the different actors involved in the response.

The first field study will focus on France (looking at two areas: “greater Paris” and the French-Italian border) and will be carried out during the second semester of 2017 as part of the « Learning and innovating to improve crisis response” project funded by the French Development Agency, Monaco Development Cooperation and the Fondation de France. The topic was proposed by Groupe URD and validated following consultation with Coordination Sud’s Humanitarian Commission.

This research project is primarily aimed at practitioners involved in the response to refugee/migrant crises. Another important target audience, particularly during the dissemination phase, will be actors who are able to influence decision-makers regarding migratory issues and policies in Europe.

After the field study in France, the project will continue at the European level.