Theme C5: Refugee Accommodations, (Dis)connection to the City, and Urban Encounters
Coordinated by Ilse van Liempt, Utrecht University
Asylum seekers are allocated to particular settlement forms, often collective accommodations in isolation, but increasingly also to smaller scale accommodations with more attention to possibilities of encounter and access to work, education and the local social life. In this workshop we want to discuss daily life experiences of refugees in different types of accommodations, the social and spatial consequences of these different accommodations and in particular how various set ups enable or prevent encounters in the urban context and what this means for social cohesion and prejudices towards refugees.
The Campisation of Centres in European Migration Regimes
Rene Kreichauf: Cosmopolis, Centre for Urban Research, Bruxelles
Centres and camp-like housing structures have an around 30-year-old long tradition in accommodating asylum seekers and refugees in the EU. Since the 1980s, several member states and EU directives have introduced centres as obligatory forms of housing aiming not only to efficiently house, control and concentrate the growing numbers of arriving refugees, but also to systematically disfranchise and discourage asylum seekers migrating to Europe. Since 2015 and in the context of “Europe’s refugee crises”, the system of centres has been further advanced in some countries. Applying the cases of Denmark, Greece and Germany, this paper exemplifies the campisation of accommodation centres in Europe and shows a standardisation of the spatial, institutional and social characteristics as well as the centralisation of different functions (leisure, living, education) at one place – the European refugee camp, which further reinforces the exclusion and rejection of refugees.
How ‘inclusive’ is inclusive asylum accommodation? The case of the Grandhotel Cosmopolis in Augsburg, Germany
Marielle Zill: Urban Geography, Utrecht University
Alongside movements to exclude and isolate asylum seekers through forms of collective accommodation, there are also movements towards more inclusive forms of accommodation. Different forms have been developed in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Italy or Greece. These more inclusive forms of asylum accommodation can differ in terms of their legal basis, their size, the stakeholders involved or the longevity of the project. A central question remains: How ‘inclusive’ are these new forms of asylum accommodation for asylum seekers? As many of these more inclusive forms of accommodation have only emerged in the wake of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’, only few studies have been published on this topic. This paper will focus on the question of inclusivity of ‘inclusive’ asylum accommodation and zooms in to the case of the Grandhotel Cosmopolis in the city centre of Augsburg, Germany. Established in 2013, it has been a temporary home to about sixty asylum seekers, as well as to about sixty hotel guests. Being a hotel and an asylum centre at the same time, it has attracted media attention throughout Germany and beyond and exemplifies an on-going debate on ‘inclusive’ forms of asylum accommodation among different societal stakeholders. The paper addresses the question of inclusivity’ by focusing on the experiences and perceptions of asylum seekers, volunteers and local residents.
Bart van den Bergh: Startblok Riekerhaven.
Startblok Riekerhaven is a ‘European laboratory’ for housing and integrating a wave of refugees. Since July 2016, more than 550 young adults under the age of 28 have been living here. Half of them are Dutch, including students and others without the means to afford Amsterdam’s high rents. The other half are refugees, recently arrived from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, and eager to settle into a new life in a new land. The question that is raised in this presentation is how to build a new culture together? How do we use our different cultural backgrounds to coöperate, inspire, learn and live together in a multicultural community?
Niene Oepkes: City Council Utrecht.
Images courtesy of the Grandhotel Cosmopolis (top) and Startblok Riekerhaven.