Constructing an evidence base of contemporary Mediterranean migrations

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Remembering the Refugee Crisis

Twelve months on from one of the deadliest shipwrecks in modern times, we need to re-think the role memory should play when dealing with the ‘refugee crisis’.

Almost exactly a year ago, on the night of 18/19 April 2015, over 800 migrants died in the Mediterranean’s worst shipwreck of modern times. An Egyptian-flagged boat was travelling between the north of Libya and the Italian island of Lampedusa when it launched a distress call. Tragically, the boat capsized after colliding with the Portuguese merchant ship which had come to its rescue. Many of the people on board, mainly African and Bangladeshi migrants, and including young children, were locked in the hull. Only 28 young men survived and just 58 bodies were recovered – all the others are still technically ‘missing’, most unnamed. Operations to recover and try to identify them will start only this month, as recently confirmed by the Italian government.

As the anniversary of the disaster approaches, it is important to remember the people who lost their lives that night, and with them all the others who died and went missing at sea over recent weeks, months and years trying to reach Europe.

Continue reading Alessio D’Angelo’s latest blog on Middlesex Minds.


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Italy’s system of migration management has been called an ‘illegality factory’. This is how it works.

In his latest blog on the Italian ‘hotspot approach’, Dr. Alessio D’Angelo analyses the complexities of a system based on emergency approaches and temporary measures. A system which is not simply inadequately resourced, but also engrained on practices that many deem illegal by both national and international standards.

Read the full blog post on Middlesex Minds.

An Italian navy ship arrives at the port of Pozzallo, Sicily – Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús (Creative Commons 2.0)

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Migrant crisis? The Italian hotspot approach is not a solution, but it has been politically effective

Over the last few months the so-called migrant crisis in the Mediterranean has been described in terms of ‘chaos’. These or related terms have been used with particular regard to the situation in Greece, which – according to the official statistics – saw nearly one million sea arrivals between January 2015 and January 2016. The ‘chaos’, however, is not in the numbers.

Continue reading on Middlesex Minds.


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After war and displacement: researching the mental health of refugees

How do the experiences of war and forced migration affect the mental health and well-being of the displaced? This is one of the questions at the heart of a Swiss government-funded research project focusing on the experiences of displaced women in Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo involving Professor of International Politics Brad Blitz.

Read the full article on Middlesex Minds.

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Anonymous in Lampedusa


Middlesex University student Dan Hitchins-Samson reflects on his experience in Lampedusa with Dr Elena Vacchelli. Their visit to the island’s cemetery (the final resting place for hundreds of unidentified migrants) and the boat arrivals that followed, are the object of a moving video also produced by Dan.

Anonymous in Lampedusa

As Elena Vacchelli and I descended onto the tiny island of Lampedusa in an even tinier plane, I could tell I was about to experience a part of Italy like no other. With the nearest landmass being Tunisia, it certainly felt just as much North African as it did Italian. The windswept shrub-land, rocky landscape and placid town seemed worlds apart from the bustling Sicilian market we had been in hours before.

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