Responses, Practices, and Processes of European Disaster Management and International Humanitarian Aid Operations in the European Refugee and Migrant Crisis

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Cordula DITTMER, Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany
Daniel F. LORENZ, Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany
To understand the link between migration and disaster it is not only important to understand how disasters contribute to migration, but also how disaster management procedures shape migration and refugee contexts. Contributing to these issue our paper describes and analyses the responses, practices and processes of European disaster management and international humanitarian aid operations of the so called “refugee and migrant crises” from 2015/16 to date exemplified by Germany and Greece and their dynamic interconnectedness.

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants into Europe in 2015/16 overwhelmed the capacities of responsible services in several European countries, resulting in multiple humanitarian and political crises. Although it was not formally declared a disaster, disaster management procedures were deployed all over Europe. While Mediterranean countries were predominantly confronted with refugees and migrants arriving by boat and in need of first services, countries along the different routes (e.g. the Balkans, Greece, Austria) dealt with aspects of transit migration such as short-term sheltering and transport whereas the destination countries had to take care of organizing temporary and permanent accommodation and provisions (e.g. Germany, Sweden).

In ‘non-crisis’ times, the care of refugees, falls under the regular jurisdiction of government entities and/or social welfare organizations. While these organizations continued to provide support, additional civil protection and disaster management organizations carried out their largest operations in many European countries during the 2015/16 period. In some places operations were even carried out under the umbrella of international humanitarian aid, specifically regarding practices, standards, and funding (e.g., DG ECHO, UNHCR). It was the first time that international humanitarian aid and European Disaster Management measures came into place in European contexts. As a result, an unprecedented hybrid situation emerged that involved very different and heterogeneous actors with to some extent competing structures and manners of operation.