Local Services, Vulnerabilities and Responses in the EU Migrant Crisis in Germany

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 5A G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Daniel F. LORENZ, Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Cordula DITTMER, Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Jessica REITER, Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Katja SCHULZE, Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
The effects of the still on-going EU migrant crisis in Germany can – with some limitations – be analyzed with respect to local services in crisis situations. Even though the term disaster is misleading in a way and some important differences remain, the shortage of local services as well as the different responses resemble disaster situations.

Allen Barton’s (1969: 38) definition of disaster being a collective stress situation in which “many members of a social system fail to receive expected conditions of life from the system”, takes the failure of basic services to the centre stage. During the EU migrant crisis basic local services such as sheltering, food provisions, medical assistance of refugees usually provided by local authorities were at large limited or even disrupted.

Although a formal state of emergency wasn’t declared at any time, informal structures and protocols of disaster management, including foreign assistance and disaster logistics, were needed in order to provide local services. Furthermore other well-known features of disaster situations are to be found: emergent citizen groups (Stallings 1985; Scanlon 1998) as well as emergent organizations and networks (EMON) in unknown quantities took care about those services that weren’t provided anymore by the municipalities or disaster aid organizations.

As Germany does not have many long-term disasters, the case of the EU migrant crisis provides important reflective insights about the state of preparedness of local services in times of disasters and crisis in Germany. The presentation will take a closer look at the differences and similarities of the EU migrant crisis situation in Germany and “conventional” disaster situations.