Rethinking refugee support


This report finds that recent changes in EU border management have limited refugees’ movement across Europe, and as such, have resulted in outsourcing of refugee settlement and care to states previously described as ‘transit’ countries along the Balkan Route(s): Serbia, Greece and Bosnia. This report analyses the problems related to refugee provisions and accommodation in these countries and along the Balkan Route(s) towards Western Europe. It highlights the disparity of refugee services, housing and living conditions across the region, and acute and ongoing humanitarian crises. The report discusses the key factors affecting poor living conditions for refugees, including: overcrowding, fragmentation of services along the routes, and a lack of consistency in camp management. Subsequently, the report discusses a range of other refugee housing options existing in transit countries – including informal and makeshift camps, squats, hotels and UN-supported housing schemes known as ‘urban shelters’ – and notes the strengths and weaknesses of each. The findings are based on the authors’ field research in Serbia, mainland Greece and the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios and Kos, between 2017 and 2019.

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