How vulnerabilities take place along the migration journey?
Within the RAISD project, altogether 178 interviews to forcibly displaced people were carried out, including 25 interviewees in each of the participating countries: Spain, Italy, Turkey, Hungary, Lebanon and Jordan, with the exception of Finland, that included 28 interviews. 60 % out of the total sample were women (107) and 40% men (71). The vast majority -116 persons, up to 65 %- were migrants fleeing from Middle East countries, and of those, practically all the interviewees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan were of Syrian origin. Also in Hungary, 16 out of 25 interviews were made to migrants from Middle East. In total, 43 African migrants were interviewed, summing 24% of the total, most of them from Western Africa. In Italy, all the interviewees were Africans, and in Spain, the sample included 9 of persons of African origin, in Hungary, 6. South Americans represented the largest portion of interviewees in Spain, altogether 11 persons. In the global sum of the interviewees, the numbers of forcibly displaced people from other regions were minor, only 2 persons were from the East (Nepal and Bangladesh) and 4 from Eastern Europe/former Russian area, including Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.
Chart: Geographical distribution of 178 interviewed Highly Vulnerable Forcibly Displaced People
In terms of vulnerabilities found, these vary depending on the local context and type of migrants interviewed, but there are some common features. These include trauma as a results of the often long and troublesome migration journey, during which many have suffered physical and sexual violence, have witnessed murders, forced labour and slavery. The majority have migrated by irregular means, victims of human trafficking, human smuggling and dangerous death threading journeys by sea or land. Libyan camp and detention centre survivors share terrifying stories of human rights violations and extreme violence. Another factor that augments the vulnerability of many of these forcibly displaced people is the lack of education, the school drop-out due to war and poverty are frequent among them. The fate of the ones with further education is usually better and they feel better integrated. Also, many have large families to support either with them or back in the home country. Many families have been torn apart in the exile process, some have lost family members who have been killed or kidnapped in the conflict areas. PTSD (post- traumatic stress disorder) and other psychological disorders are therefore frequent among them, though many do not mention these aspects directly. Also, many migrants suffer from chronicle and other diseases, some of the result of the hardness and lack of proper food and sanitation conditions during the journey.
P.1 UCM | Universidad Complutense De Madrid
In Spain, altogether 25 interviews to forcibly displaced persons were carried out. The countries of origin of the people interviewed are very varied, but those from Latin America, 4 men and 7 women, stand out in number; in addition to African countries, with 6 women and 3 men. The reasons for the displacement are varied. Some of the people have reported that it has been for reasons of health, insecurity, and/or threats in their countries of origin. In the latter group, some interviewees were threatened for their sexual orientation or for their political ideas, among other motives. Several of the women interviewed stated that they had been victims of sexual or (gender based) sexist violence, from marriages imposed by their family, to rapes along their journey to Spain. The way of arrival varies depending on the countries of origin. In general, those from Latin America arrived in Spain by plane, while those from Africa have had to make long trips on foot, by boat or hiding in vehicles, arriving mostly by irregular means.
In Italy, the interviews focused on Western African origin forcibly displaced people, 11 of them male and 14 females. In case of the males, they had reached Italy as unaccompanied minors after crossing several countries and monthly, being smuggled to Libya. Most of the women are victims of human trafficking, have suffered sexual violence (including frequent raping), unwanted pregnancies, abortions and abuses, some of them have been sold several times during the journey. The journey has been large and harsh to nearly all, through several countries and by several attempts to cross the sea by the Central Mediterranean Route, many have been saved by rescue boats. The fate has been especially hard on the Libyan camp survivors, which is the case of the majority of the interviewees. Also, several cases of kidnapping by ASMA boys (armed gangs who kidnap migrants for ransoms) to Niger are reported. In addition to the violence in the journey, here are several cases of family violence back in their home country, as well as abandonment by parents, negligence and family violence. The educational level in origin is generally low. Most of the males arrived as unaccompanied minors. Several of the West African interviewees had religious issues related to superstitious family culture, parents’ belonging to a specific cult, most of the officially Christian. In Italy, many of them appreciate the religious freedom, but do not feel integrated and one half of them are not in any integration/inclusion programs. The other half are either completing the compulsory minimum integration degree or doing some additional vocational formation and occasional works, though the majority are unemployed.
P.4 Helsingin Yliopisto
In Finland, altogether 28 interviews to forcibly displaced persons were carried out, including one test case. The vast majority -24 of the 27 interviewees- were migrants fleeing from Middle East countries, only 3 persons being from Africa. 12 of them were from Afghanistan and 11 from Iraq, mostly young men. Half of the interviewees have children and 7 of them are married, 2 widowed and in some cases, the spouse and some of the children live in transit or origin countries. Just in 4 cases, the person lives in Finland with his whole core family. There are several victims of human trafficking, many with traumas due to the long lasting journey through transit countries, including forcible stays in Turkey, Greece and elsewhere. At least 3 of the single young men had arrived to Finland as non-accompanied minors. Two cases mentioned military backgrounds as thread and one person had been an ISIS victim. For many interviewees, the relation with the family is complex, some members are missing, dead or have lost contact with the relatives. There are some cases of mental problems and depression. Two interviewees reported problems with family and relatives as they had turned Christian in Finland. Most of the respondents feel quite isolated, especially in the reception centres, and have difficulty with the asylum process and work permit. Language difficulties are also mentioned; two persons are illiterate. Nearly all express critics about the Finnish asylum system and many have ideas of improvement.
P.5 Menedek | Migransokat Segito Egyesulet
In Hungary, altogether 25 interviews to forcibly displaced persons were carried out. The vast majority -18 of the 25 interviewees- were migrants fleeing from Middle East countries, 6 persons being from Africa, and 1 from Cuba. 7 of them were from Afghanistan and 5 from Iraq. The interviewees are mostly in their 20’s or 30’s, 11 of them young men, and 7 young women. 10 of the interviewees are single, and the rest are married and/or have children. In almost all cases, the interviewee lives in Hungary with his partner or a small part of his family, but the rest of the relatives remain far away. The reasons for the exile are varied, 2 of them fled after being threatened by the Taliban, and another 2 for religious reasons. Almost everyone agrees on the difficulty during the journey. Some of them manifest mental problems caused by their situations, and others do not want to talk about the aggressions that they have suffered on the way or that they have witnessed. 3 of the interviewees arrived to Hungary as unaccompanied minors. Several have come to Hungary with academic degrees and speak many languages (including Hungarian), condition that has facilitated their adaptation to the new country. In the case of persons with language difficulties, their adaptation has been more complicated, and some of them say that they feel isolated. 2 people who stay at a reception centre claim that the conditions and rules of the centre have negatively affected their mental state.
P.6 Anadolu University
The Turkish interview sample includes 25 forcible displaced persons, all of Arabic origins, most of the presumably from Syria. 23 interviewees were female, principally on their 20’s or 30’s, whereas only 2 men were interviewed. The vast majority -17- of the interviewees are married, 6 single, 1 widow and 1 divorced person. Most of the married persons have children, in some cases a large number, and they live with the closest family in Turkey, whereas the single persons mostly live with their parents. One of the women is fleeing from a husband who stays in the home country. When it comes to persons with refugee status, war, bombings and violence, death and other serious threads forced these persons to exile. One of the refugees stated fleeing from ISIS. Many of the migrants have family members who have been killed or are missing. 10 interviewees reported migrating by legal means, though most entered irregularly. A few arrived in search for a better future and to have larger rights, even though most of them had also received threads. There were several cases of religious discrimination in the country of origin, due to belonging to a different Muslim sect. Many of the migrants and refugees had learned Turkish, several of them felt quite at ease in Turkey and wanted to stay, but for others, Turkey is a stop in the journey. Also, some women reported sexual harassment in Turkey.
In Jordan, altogether 25 interviews to forcibly displaced persons were carried out. All the interviewees came from Syria. The vast majority – 21 of the 25 interviewees – were women, of which 11 women were under 40 years old, and 10 were over 40 years old. The 4 men interviewed never exceed 40 years of age. Some interviewees -5- do not clarify in their interview what their current status is, and those who do so are refugees and asylum seekers. Some of the interviewees have suffered physical and psychological violence related to the Syrian war. Almost all of them agree that they have not obtained sufficient and necessary means for their recovery in Jordan, and therefore, this physical and/or psychological discomfort contributes to their vulnerability. Many of them have taken Jordan as a transit country, and plan to migrate to other countries or return to Syria if/when the situation allows. In many cases, the contributions of the interviewer stand out, reflecting that some interviewees seem to be afraid to speak about the community around them.
P.8 Lebanese International University
In Lebanon, out of the 25 interviews to forcibly displaced persons, 14 were female interviewees and 11 male, all of them of Syrian origin. Practically all of the migrants were fleeing from the Syrian war, though in some cases one of the family members had arrived to Lebanon before the conflict and the rest of the family had joined when the conflict started. All of the interviewees are classified as refugee, as they are entitled to international protection, nevertheless, many of them are still asylum seekers or applying for a work permit. Nearly all the migrants commented having been very happy in Syria and feel nostalgic about their home country. Around two thirds are married and have children, the women are mostly housewives. Most of the males are unemployed, themselves or their children have problems getting a work permit. Several families have difficulties or cannot afford their children’s schooling in Lebanon and among the interviewees, many have dropped school at a very early age. Only a few are highly educated and work as teachers in Lebanon, feeling more integrated. Some of the men have occasional jobs. One of the interviewees resumed the situation: “We are only perceived as pathetic people with no abilities and kept even segregated from our basic human rights – dignity”. Several interviewees were enthusiastic to provide as much info as possible and raise the voice for the sake of improving the situation of Syrian refugees in vulnerable situations.