Searching for drivers to migrate to Europe

2020 December 17

One of the most distinctive features of the FUME project is the focus on the local context in which the decisions to migrate are made. A group of project partners are soon to start the field interviews in four countries that represent various migration flows to Europe. Among the major obstacles for migrants, and for the project this year, has been the Covid-19 pandemic which might reveal new perspectives for future migration projections.

Local conditions reveal motives for migration

The main aim of the case studies is to understand the key drivers for international migration from sending countries to destination cities in Europe. The case studies will be conducted in Iraq, Senegal, Tunisia and Ukraine, representing four different regions from which migrants come to destination cities in Europe. Here FUME will focus on Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Rome and Cracow.

”The hypothesis is that migration is a multi-step action – the first migration is happening from rural areas to the bigger cities and then from the bigger cities to Europe. We want to understand what conditions motivate people to migrate to other places within the country or further to Europe or other destinations,” says Karolina Sobczak-Szelc from the Cracow University of Economics.

The interviews will be conducted with both migrants and local actors. The questions to migrants will cover five main topics: the situation in their families/households; in their place of birth; in their place of current residence; the main motives for the initial migration; and any future migration plans?

Eventually, the experts will share their perspectives on the essential drivers for future migration to Europe, and how those might impact migration policies and the development of future destination cities.

“The results will provide new or more in-depth information on social, economic, political, cultural and environmental drivers for international migration,” says Karolina Sobczak-Szelc.

Covid-19 spurs new questions and methods

Initially, the project partners were planning to train local interviewers, as well as to observe the situation in the sending countries themselves. But due to the pandemic, they had to find new ways of implementing their ideas.

“We had to switch to remote cooperation with our local partners. After we have finalised the report, we still hope to visit the sending countries to verify the results with the local actors and authorities. The fact that we are collecting information remotely might influence the results. Another thing that we didn’t plan from the beginning is to analyse the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on migration. It could increase the migration to Europe, but it could also push internal migrants to their regions of origins due to internal lockdown and changes in the economy,” says Karolina Sobczak-Szelc.

Next steps

As most of the preparations for the field interviews are coming to an end, the next steps will be to train local interviewers to conduct the interviews and then analyse the results. The final report, including results of the literature review regarding migration patterns in case study countries and the field research, will be published by mid-2021.

The work package on perspectives of migration is led by Marcin Stonaw from Statistics Denmark. The case studies in the sending countries are coordinated by Karolina Sobczak-Szelc, who is also responsible for the Tunisian case study. The works over other case studies are carried by Lanciné E. N. Diop (Senegalese and Iraqi case study), Frank Heins (Senegalese case study), Stefano degli Uberti (Senegalese case study), Konrad Pędziwiatr (Ukrainian case study, Tunisian case study) and Dobrosława Wiktor (Ukrainian case study).

The local partners in the case study countries are the Department of Spatial Planning, University of Duhok (Iraqi), Institute for Training and Research in Population, Development and Health Reproduction (Senegal), Centre of Tunis for Migration and Asylum (Tunisia), The Centre of Applied Anthropology (Ukraine).

Written by Vaida Ražaitytė