The 18th Nordic Migration Conference, 2016

Migration and social inequality: Global perspectives – new boundaries

August 11-12 2016, Oslo

The University of Oslo in cooperation with the Nordic Migration Research and the Norwegian Network for Migration Research will welcome the 18th Nordic Migration Conference. This conference takes place every two year with a interdisciplinary and international outlook.

In an increasingly globalized world, boundaries of class, nationality, ethnicity, gender and legal statuses are intersecting in new ways, giving rise to changing and new dimensions of inequality within and between both migrant sending and migrant receiving societies. This years focus will be to explore the diverse links between international migration and social inequality, in a Nordic, European and global context. Read more.

 

Open call for paper abstracts

The call for paper abstracts is open from February 1st until March 15th. Read more.

Workshops

Here you can read a detailed description of each workshop. Check Workshop proposal nr. 42 – Housing and its influence on the everyday lives of asylum seekers.

 

Stay tuned for our next posts!

andreia fidalgoAndreia Fidalgo

Member of the IFHP office in Copenhagen
Project Assistant of the Housing Refugees Project

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are those of the authors of the blogposts and do not reflect those of the International Federation of Housing and Planning.

Remembering a community’s response to racism towards immigrants in East London

In Dr. Gina Netto’s recent post on this blog, she writes:

“Extensive work needs to be undertaken with existing communities, including investing in new accommodation for the local population and with community development in order to avoid racial hostility and tension. Local communities should be prepared for the arrival of refugees. Awareness of the reasons for forced migration should be raised. Local residents should also be assured that they would not be disadvantaged through increased pressure on services. The allocation of housing to refugees in these areas should be gradual, allowing existing residents to become accustomed to new arrivals over time.”

The importance of these considerations is evident when looking at the Isle of Dogs in the borough of Tower Hamlets, East London during early 1990s. Due to a sense of unfair housing policy and opportunist scapegoating by the extreme political right, a period of outright social conflict occurred. A councilor for the British National Party (BNP) was elected and a nasty spike in racially motivated hate crimes occurred. As a child growing up on the Island with parents involved in the movement against racism, some of my earliest memories were formed during the campaign to stop the BNP.

Context

The Isle of Dogs is surrounded on three sides by the Thames and on the northern edge by the artificial water of Docklands, so it’s a tucked away pocket of the city. Historically, Docklands was an important hub for Britain’s imperial trading system and for many island residents a reliable source of work, but the docks closure in 1980 lead to increased local unemployment. Thatcher’s solution was to develop Docklands into a financial district and up went the skyscrapers in Canary Wharf. In particular, there was a constraint on housing. The Conservative’s ‘Right to Buy’ policy had reduced the housing stock in Tower Hamlets between 1981 and 1993 by 28%, a factor which combined with long housing waiting lists created competition for and pressure on public housing. My dad, who was an Anglican vicar on the Isle of Dogs from 1988 to 1995, recalls that it’s “a place that’s been governed by things from outside that have had an impact on the local community and local people that they’ve not been in control of.”

Enter ‘Outsiders’…

During the 1980s Britain received an influx of Bangladeshi families fleeing armed conflict in their homeland. In Tower Hamlets, many Bangladeshi families were awaiting housing whilst living in harshly inadequate or overcrowded conditions, in some cases with settled relatives in the north of the borough or in some cases outright homeless. When these people were moved into social housing on the Isle of Dogs, local people who had been waiting for housing several years were aggrieved. The perception arose that these ‘outsiders’ received underserved preferential treatment. Motivated by more than simply fear or prejudice towards foreigners – although these were partly evident – the hostility was a result of a failure to communicate and justify that council’s housing policy allocated homes based on the highest need, rather than length of time on the list.

Extreme politics  

The perceived injustice was exploited by the BNP – a spin-off of the neo-nazi National Front – who stirred up the housing issue by overplaying its ethnic dimension. For the BNP, practically every problem relating to Island life was brought back to immigration. It was vulnerable ethnic minorities, rather than policy-makers, who became the scapegoats and faced harsh discrimination. And in September 1993, thanks to a split in the vote to the left, the openly racist British National Party were able to gain their first ever election victory by winning a council seat. During this time numerous acts of racist hate crime took place, including violence and arson. Indeed between January 1993 and January 1994, reported attacks on the Isle of Dogs increased by 300 per cent, 71% of the victims being Asian. Sadly, for some people the electoral result legitimised the discrimination. My mum, who was a secondary school teacher, remembers that following the election “it became OK to be racist. It was like a cloud hanging over the Isle of Dogs.”

Community response

School Uniform with Rainbow Ribbon – 1994 © Edward Werb

In response to an openly racist elected councilor and an increasing sense of a divide community, a broad based alliance of community institutions joined together, which included faith institutions (such as my dad’s church), unions, housing associations and community groups. The struggle was to come together around the agenda of social inclusion and challenge the discriminatory BNP whilst simultaneously addressing legitimate concerns about social alienation.

A community peace group was co-founded by my mum, which, as an act of positive symbolism, distributed thousands of little rainbow ribbons for locals to wear in support of multiculturalism. The group’s slogan was ‘Celebrate the Difference’. My mum says “head teachers allowed students to wear them and they loved making their uniforms more interesting. Teachers and the doctors wore them too. The ribbons changed the mood on the island- Bangladeshis could see they did have support.” The following year a higher voter turnout was mobilized and, in what was widely seen as a victory for campaigners, the BNP lost their seat at the first opportunity.

 Lessons

This case is an instance of how housing and immigration can combine to spark tension. A key lesson from the Isle of Dogs is that transparency is essential. Policy-makers and local government must communicate clearly what they’re doing, be understood and in return listen to local people’s views, especially when minority groups receive priority. Another lesson is that the role of civil societies institutions – in particular faith institutions, who tend to have both a physical and relational presence in every community – working alongside local government can be instrumental in achieving social cohesion. Furthermore, the success of distributing rainbow ribbons amongst the community shows a positive, visible way of rejecting discrimination and showing solidarity with newcomers. Is it time for those working to integrate today’s refugees to wear similar symbols of support?

Sources

Foster, J. (1999) “Docklands: Culture in Conflict, Worlds in Collision.” London: UCL.

Holtam, T. (2009) “How were the British National Party successfully warded off the Isle of Dogs after their local by-election victory of September 1993?” MA Thesis, Sussex.

Mayo, S. & Holtam, N. (1998) “Learning From the Conflict. Reflections on the struggle against the BNP on the Isle of Dogs.” Jubilee Group.

Phil

Phil Holtam

Recent Sustainability Science graduate based in Copenhagen

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are those of the authors of the blogposts and do not reflect those of the International Federation of Housing and Planning.

Latest news!!

80.000
© UNHCR/H.Holland

UNHCR reported more than 80,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe by boat during the first six weeks of 2016 – more than in the first four months of 2015, despite the rough seas and severe winter. In the face of the dangers, over 2,000 people a day continue to risk their lives attempting to reach Europe.

Read the full story.

 

 


© European Union / Wim Daneels

“Whether in my own municipality, or far away, I firmly believe that people who are forced to flee their country and leave everything they have behind, deserve our support.” And, “I believe that protection of refugees in their areas of origin must be part of a holistic approach to care for refugees. It should not be used as an argument to deny all people the right to apply for asylum in Europe.” Says Hans Janssen (EPP/NL), European Committee of the Regions rapporteur on the “Protection of refugees in their areas of origin: a new perspective 2016”.

Read full interview here.

 


Camp_for_Sri_Lankan_refugees_in_Tamil_Nadu40 Sri Lankan refugees returned to their home country, supported by Germany, along with the UNHCR after have been living in Tamil Nadu since the early 90s.

Read more on the Times of India.

 

 


 

scotland flagMedically trained and qualified refugees are being offered the chance to use their skills and contribute to Scotland’s National Health Service (NHS). The New Refugee Doctors Project is one of the most important initiatives recently undertaken by civic Scotland. The Glasgow-based project will help to prevent de-skilling, offer the opportunity to observe the NHS in action and opportunities to experience the reality of working as a doctor in Scotland.

Read more here.

 


 

IFHP_ones_Refugees_final (002)_Page_01In the second half of 2015 the IFHP Housing Refugee Programme has opened the discussion on how to provide adequate housing for refugees as the migrant “crisis” in Europe continues to divide political and societal opinions. We published two reports, identified three major obstacles and developed 7 considerations. Lastly, we have published a report, which wraps up the work in 2015.

Read the full publication here.

 

 

 

Stay tuned for our next posts! We will refresh the Latest News every 15 days. Contact us if you want specific content.

andreia fidalgo
Andreia Fidalgo

Member of the IFHP office in Copenhagen
Project Assistant of the Housing Refugees Project

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are those of the authors of the blogposts and do not reflect those of the International Federation of Housing and Planning.

BLOG: A sense of belonging

To house refugees in an area by themselves will most likely lead to segregation and ghettoization which we normally try to avoid when we develop our cities.

Christina Krog, senior manager at the IFHP, has written a comment to the current political debate in the Danish parliament Folketinget. The parliament has requested the government to come up with proposals of how to house refugees in what is being called “refugee villages”.


“Allow me to start by saying that the idea of building so called villages exclusively to house refugees’ sounds like a very bad idea.

Among other topics at IFHP we work with housing of refugees, – both in Europe and in Denmark. We do so because it is part of our DNA to care about how we create better cities for people. We know quite a lot about social cohesive cities, about which tools and methods to meet the intended development and last but not least; Why the diverse city often is more innovative than the city in a pleasant comfort zone.

Since August 2015 IFHP has been working with housing of refugees in Europe, as several of our European members have pointed out we need to work together to deal with this challenge. That’s what we do: Work together to solve challenges. We share knowledge about problems and solutions, we help to translate them into own terms to make inspiration relevant locally. As professionals we believe we can contribute with solutions and perspectives unbiased and without political agendas.

It is intelligent, however NOT rocket science. But we feel obliged to sound an alarm in conjunction with the idea of establishing national refugee villages.

Normally we do what we can to avoid creating ghettos. There are few good examples of a neighbourhood created for a selected group of inhabitants. On the contrary, numerous examples exist of what it may lead to, when a neighbourhood with a specific population, albeit one that is in a minority, is isolated and detached from the rest of the city.

Just think of why we invest large sum in refurbishment of existing ghettos in most cities across Europe to dissolve segregation. Take a look around in your own city and you can probably easily find your own examples.

The segregated city with disconnected neighbourhoods is NOT the solution. Neither for the elite nor for the marginalised. In short; we simply do not have great examples of “gated communities” or ghettos being the source of creating prosperous cities. Which is why progressive cities today aim at developing cities with neighbourhoods which accommodate several functions and offer housing at different price range. So the idea to set up refugee villages isolated from the surrounding society is therefore not a good solution. Even if one assumes it is temporary. Firstly, because it almost always turns out that it becomes permanent. Secondly because there globally is a great demand for more affordable housing.”


The Danish government, as many other national and local governments, ought to solve the challenge of accommodating refugees by in general providing more affordable housing which is long-term sustainable and a benefit also for the existing population.

During the autumn 2015, the IFHP Housing Refugee Programme published seven considerations for when you work with housing of refugees, based on three main challenges. Read more about this in the report (http://www.ifhp.org/product/ifhp-ones-housing-refugees-programme-2015), and let us know what your current challenge is and share your approach and solutions with us all.

This is a shortened and edited version of the original comment, published at www.altinget.dk, 26 January

 

Christina Krog

Christina Krog

Member of the IFHP office in Copenhagen
Project Manager of the Housing Refugees Programme

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are those of the authors of the blogposts and do not necessarily reflect those of the International Federation of Housing and Planning.

 

BLOG: An afternoon meeting on Housing Refugees

On January 28th, the IFHP in conjunction with the Danish Town Planning Institute invited the Danish network of municipalities, planners, developers and community to an afternoon dedicated to the housing of refugees. The meeting ‘Fyraftensmøde: Boligplacering af flygtninge’ took place in Copenhagen at the IFHP headquarters.

The aim was to share knowledge, discuss challenges and co-create the process of becoming agile to match the current and coming situations. This resulted in a functional space to connect interested professionals within housing refugees.

The discussiDK Housing Refugee Meeting 280116_photo_Francois David05on was initialized by the presentation of the current IFHP Housing Refugees Programme and followed by the presentation of Ole Bondo Christensen, Mayor of Furesø Kommune. Both presentations opened the space for dialogue.

The meeting counted with the participation of 53 professionals, from municipalities and NGOs, to developers and architects. Social services, urban planning, employment and integration were the represented sectors. Some significant questions and answers from the discussion were raised on this presentation, included:

“What is the best option to house refugees? Build new buildings or create other kind of alternatives like hosting in family houses or hotels?”

“Building in Denmark is extremely expensive and it is a long process, and we need to solve the problem faster.”

After the first Q&A people were asked to join in groups and think about how they could participate to the effective change of the current situation, and how they could engage with the network to establish partnerships, solutions, and carry further dialogue. Main topics discussed were:

– De-regulation of building regulations – for a limited time;
– Flexible and temporary housing;
– Housing is integration;
– The sectors need to be re-thought to match the current and future needs.

The political discourse at the national level in Denmark was not evident among the participants, who were driven by having a task or an idea and wanting to contribute to solve the current challenge. One participant asked: What would you do if these new citizens were your children?

The last 30 minutes of the meeting were spent on a discussion among the participants about “What next?” The majority indicated they would like to meet again, some had specific topics they want to further discuss, and others were more intrigued by the inter-disciplinary inspiration and talks.

The IFHP, along with the Danish Town Planning Institute, will wrap-up the feedback from the meeting and propose a new one, to realize if there is an interest and engagement from the participants.

 

Stay tuned for our next posts!

andreia fidalgo
Andreia Fidalgo
Member of the IFHP office in Copenhagen
Project Assistant of the Housing Refugees Project

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are those of the authors of the blogposts and do not reflect those of the International Federation of Housing and Planning.