Human rights don’t apply here? : the emerging of informal refugee camps in Europe: a case study research in Northern Italy
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Despite the closure of the Balkan route and the decrease of arrivals, the routes of refugees to Europe are still open with hundreds arriving every month. While boat crossings attract attention, silence prevails of what happens after the arrival. The enclosure of Europe and the reluctance of states to receive refugees and to grant fleeing people a legal status leave refugees stranded at European borders. The states of arrival are overstrained with the migratory influx and informal settlements emerge, offering shelter for thousands. The aim of this study was to understand the geneses of informal refugee camps and to link these to the multiple crises that branched out of the so-called refugee crisis. The emerging of informality was investigated through a qualitative research design, conducting ethnographic interviews with refugees in Brennero, Bolzano, Trento and Ventimiglia. The reasons for the arising of informal encampments are closely linked to the grounds why refugees strand in Italy. The congested reception system cannot cope with the high demand and forces refugees into informality, refugees ‘drop-out’ and ‘step-out’ of the reception system due to the lack of places and the deplorable living conditions. Refugees in informality face poor living conditions, being exposed to violence, criminality, repression and natural hazards. They show a high degree of mobility and vulnerability, suffering increasing marginalization. The institutional answer consists in systematic human rights violations, like the eviction of makeshift camps and forced transfers of refugees, resulting in a vicious circle of informality, homelessness and segregation. Italy appears to be the load-carrier, as the country is obliged to deal with the influx of migrants from North and South, taking over the responsibility of the entire EU, which is opting for necropolitics rather than burden-sharing.