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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Why the refugee crisis is not a refugee crisis

Javier Alcalde

The term “refugee crisis” is still the expression most often used to refer to the increase in the number of people that have been coming to the European Union in recent times seeking asylum. Oftentimes, when we hear or read it, we know instinctively that we do not like it, but we may not be able to explain exactly why not. There are many complementary answers: some of the criticisms focus on the word “crisis” ; others, on the concept of “refugee”; others still, on the combination of the two words; and others, on the absence of alternative words that explicitly state the causes and those responsible for this situation.

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Type: Journal Article
Year: 2016

In the context of the European research project “Collective action and the refugee crisis”, I have spent several months interviewing activists who work on the denunciation , solidarity and support of migrants and refugees. Even though they do not all share the same analysis of the causes and solutions, there is one point on which they unanimously agree: the refugee crisis is not actually a crisis of refugees. This term, popularized by the media in the spring and summer of 2015, is still the expression most often used to refer to the increase in the number of people that have been coming to the European Union in recent times seeking asylum. Since then, the vast majority of stakeholders, including politicians, NGOs, international organizations , journalists and university professors in a variety of disciplines have used the expression again and again. And they continue to do so. Oftentimes, when we hear or read it, we know instinctively that we do not like it, but we may not be able to explain exactly why not. As we shall see, there are many complementary answers. Some of the criticisms focus on the word “crisis” ; others, on the concept of “refugee”; others still, on the combination of the two words; and others, on the absence of alternative words that explicitly state the causes and those responsible for this situation.

Javier Alcalde, 2016, "Why the refugee crisis is not a refugee crisis". Peace in Progress 29. Special issue ‘Refugees Welcome’

http://www.icip-perlapau.cat/numero29/articles_centrals/article_central_2/

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