This research intends to explore the differences in the meaning and the level of social inclusion of forced migrants in five countries at the border of the European Union (Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Catalonia and Hungary). It is attempting to answer the question what are the most important and typical dimensions of social exclusion and how they are different both in terms of relevance and prevalence in the above listed countries. Forced migrants are defined as people, who were coerced to flee their home country by conditions unalterable by them and that threatened their basic human rights and therefore they need the protection of the country they arrived to.
A better understanding of social inclusion of forced migrant is an inevitable step both towards contributing to an improvement of the situation of forced migrants and reducing the social tensions in our societies.
The first stage of the study concerns the definition of the terms used in the research. Terms like “forced migrants” and “social inclusion” are difficult to define in a single (right) way. Though, we tried to define “social inclusion” as a long term process, which outcome is social integration. For what “forced migrants” is concerned, the term covers both asylum seekers and refugees, excluding in fact economic migrants: due to this exclusion, the term does not address the realities of the latest trends of migration, in which often asylum seekers leave their countries for economic reasons. In this perspective, the line which separates economic migrants and forced migrants becomes thinner and thinner. In order to make the distinction clear, we fixed two criteria, to avoid conceptual chaos or omission of cases; first one is the need of protection. The second is the impossibility for forced migrants to return home, because of indignity of living condition.
Five were the methods of inquiry in the research, applied to scrutinize the questions on forced migrants and social inclusion. First, the analysis of government policies on forced migrants and refugees. Second, survey on forced migrants themselves. Third, survey on people working in the field related to forced migrants. Fourth, survey on public opinion. Last, case studies. The analysis of government policies is important to understand laws and regulation concerning forced migrants. The surveys, on the other hand, were useful to explore the dimension of social inclusion. In particular, six dimension were taken into account: housing; employment; access to health services; access to education; access to social life; access to political life.
OUTCOMES: A GENERAL OVERVIEW
According to the analysis of the surveys conducted in the five different countries, the main countries of origin of forced migrants were Afghanistan (12,9%), Pakistan (11,1%), Nigeria (8,0%), Sudan (6.8%), Ivory Coast (4.9%), Iraq (4.3%). Among them, 34.2% were international protection seekers, 31.8% had refugee status, 10.7% had subsidiary protection, 8% had temporary or humanitarian protection, 6.8% were appealing to the court after denial and 8% did not fall in any of the previous categories.
For what the analysis of the governmental policies is concerned, instead, in all countries a negative assessment emerged; besides lack of funding, lack of planning, financial mismanagement, lack of attention for the needs of forced migrants, two other important features came to light: the absence of promotion of autonomy of forced migrants, which leads to simple tackling of urgent needs, without a long-term, systematic strategy to grant social inclusion and the de-politicization of migration issue, which embeds it to humanitarianism, emergency help and compassion and charity, building the space to humanitarian exception to the law - and, indeed, no systematic strategy - for forced migrants.
THE GREEK SITUATION
In Greece we submitted the survey to 72 forced migrants. it resulted that 13 of them were female, 58 male, and one of them did not declare his/her gender. Almost the half of them were around 30 years old. The main countries of origin were Afghanistan (30.4%), Congo (11.6%), Ivory Coast (11.6%), Syrian Arabic Republic (7.2%). An interesting feature which came out from the research is that it is difficult to distinguish between refugees and migrants, because of the so-called mixed migratory movements, according to which migrants’ and refugees’ routes to get to Europe are getting always more similar to each other. The distinction - and the determination of refugee status - comes clear only when asylum seekers are able to access the relevant procedures and when such procedures are fair and efficient. This is one of the two biggest problems: unimpeded access to procedure is often not guaranteed, especially at the entry points, where there are lacks of interpreters, information and legal aids. Secondly, the asylum procedures is often characterized by lack of essential procedural guarantees, such as qualified interpretation, poor quality in interviews and poor quality of decision, as well as low rates of recognition. These problems result in a situation in which many forced migrants are not able to seek for asylum in Greece and hope to reach another country in Europe with better perspective of granted protection. Consequently, those who cannot leave Greece are trapped in the country, without documents, marginalized, with no rights. It is not possible to provide accurate estimates for the number of the so called undocumented migrants, since it would require serious and coordinated effort to register and identify these persons. Surely it can be stated that many of them are asylum seekers who could not file their application, potential refugees who have not sought asylum, persons with special needs (victims of trafficking, torture), migrants who were not able to renew their permit to stay.
For further information: www.opendoorsresearch.org