Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies

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Volunteering for Refugees in Europe:
Civil Society, Solidarity, and Forced Migration along the Balkan Route amid the Failure of the Common European Asylum System


Dr. J. Olaf Kleist / Dr. Serhat Karakayali

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gefördert durch:

Priniciple Investigators:

Dr. Serhat Karakayali, Berliner Institute für empirische Migrations- und Integrationsforschung (BIM), Humboldt Universität Berlin, Germany
Dr. J. Olaf Kleist, Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS), University of Osnabrück, Germany


Dr. Barbara Beznec, Lubljana, Slovenia
Dr. Dimitros Parsanoglou, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Department of Social Policy, Athens, Greece

Research Assistant:

Larena Nellies-Ortiz, B.A.


Gerda-Henkel Stiftung, July 2016 – June 2018


Amid rising numbers of asylum seekers arriving in the EU and migrating along the Balkan route in 2015, state, EU and traditional NGO institutions failed to adequately receive, register and care for the new arrivals. Instead, volunteers stepped in to provide humanitarian assistance. They are locals as well as citizens from other European countries who engage with the crisis for a variety of reasons, in a range of contexts and with varying consequences. This research project will examine personal motives, social structures and political conditions of volunteering for refugees in countries along the so-called Balkan route: in Greece, in Slovenia, and in former Yugoslav countries. Based on political process tracing, sociological-ethnographic observations and semi-structured interviews with volunteers, officials, locals and refugees we will devise country reports that will create the basis for a comparative study. Thus, we will interrogate whether we can witness in this refugee policies ’from below’ the creation of a particular, pro-immigration and human rights based European civil society or social movement.