The Role of NGOs in (de-)Constructing ‘Flight' Migration at the Mediterranean Borders

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:30 AM
Room: 313+314
Distributed Paper
Anna GANSBERGEN , Ruhr University Bochum, Germany
Ludger PRIES , Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany
Mara HASENJÜRGEN , Ruhr University Bochum, Germany
Since its inception of the 1985 Schengen Agreement, internal borders within the Schengen space have been abolished. No doubt that this has bolstered the freedom of human mobility within the Schengen borers, which went hand in hand with the southbound, and more recently eastbound, EU enlargement. Observers speak of transnational mobility, commuter/shuttle migration, moving away from the presumed linear nature of migration in the study of immigration. But this is just one part of the European migration landscape: the mobility to the southeastern and southern external borders seems no less vibrant yet the entry into these has become severely hardened owing to the ever tightening border control, as widely reported by the media.

However, we still know very little about what the Mediterranean member states’ migration regimes have in common. Even lesser analyzed is the role of NGOs in supporting these migrants as well as responding to the media coverage about forced flight from Africa and the Middle East. The aim of this paper is threefold: firstly, we shed light on the practices of NGOs in Southern Europe, particularly focusing on their reaction to, and collaboration with, migration policies at the governmental and EU level. Secondly, we explore the role of meso-level social networks among NGOs in not only supporting migrants but also (un-)making flight migration, by contemplating on the question whether the difference between the “forced” and “voluntary” migration is only a theoretical one. Third,  we envisage visualizing our findings through Google Earth. This paper draws on expert interviews and documents collected in our research-based seminar at the University of Bochum.