Migration and Displacement

The University of Birmingham is at the forefront of research into migration and displacement. The Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) is the first institute in the UK and one of the first globally, to focus on migration, displacement and superdiversity.

We are unravelling the refugee crisis, shifting headlines from immigration to integration
Birmingham Heroes: Professor Jenny Phillimore talks about 'superdiversity'
Birmingham Heroes: Migration and Displacement - Professor Sabine Lee

The refugee crisis

The ongoing ‘refugee crisis’ in the Mediterranean has put immigration and integration issues back in the headlines; often based on false assumptions and generalisations. The attempts of governments across the globe to respond to the so-called crisis has included little effort to understand the back stories of migrants and refugees. We are working to unravel the myths and identify the drivers and motivations that push migrants leave their countries of origin or residence, the realities of both their journey, and their experiences of integrating into their new communities.

Researchers at Birmingham have challenged current policy responses to sea arrivals and rescue at sea which make sea crossings more deadly. They have demonstrated that 88 percent of those arriving in Greece in 2015 fled their homes because of persecution, violence, death threats or human rights abuse. Despite general assumptions concerning sea arrivals in Italy being economic migrants in disguise only 38 percent of those we interviewed cited economic factors as the primary reason for leaving their home country. We know that a progressive, humane response to migration can only be achieved by working with refugees and migrants, and listening to their voices.

Migrant integration

A great deal of attention has been placed upon the numbers of migrants arriving in Europe with far less concern paid to how those migrants might be supported to integrate into European societies. Researchers at Birmingham have undertaken studies looking at what works in migrant integration and identifying good practice in migrant integration. They have also analysed large datasets examining refugee integration outcomes enabling them to assess what kinds of experiences are ant-integrative.

They find that migrants and refugees fare better if they have access to good quality language training and education, volunteering opportunities, mentoring and initiatives for women. Migrants repeatedly express the desire to contribute and be accepted. Analysis shows that those who experience racist harassment are less likely to be employed or to report good health, than those who do not. Further initiatives that support the general population to welcome migrants are generally highly effective in supporting integration.

Researchers’ work has fed into the re-assessments of the EU’s Common Basic Principles for Integration and into various UK Government reviews. Most recently the IRiS team have used their expertise around migrant integration to train individuals working with refugees and unaccompanied asylum seeking children. They have created a refugee integration toolkit that can help local areas support the integration of Syrian refugees.

Children and War

Diagnosis, treatment and prevention

Postcards from...

Nando's blog

Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS)

Consolidating expertise on superdiversity

Researching the crisis


Find out more

Children Born Of War (CHIBOW) ➤
Children Born Of War blog ➤
MEDMIG - Unravelling the Mediterranean Migration Crisis ➤
MEDMIG - Understanding the dynamics and drivers of Mediterranean migration in 2015 (PDF) ➤
Becoming Adult ➤
Syrian Resettlement ➤
Children and Unsafe Migration in Europe: Data Briefing ➤
Local and experiential aspects of migrant integration - An overview (PDF) ➤
Reimagining society in the age of superdiversity ➤
Seeing double? How the EU miscounts migrants arriving at its borders ➤
New maps show the fragmented journeys of migrants and refugees to Europe ➤
Eunice Apio (Facilitation for Peace and Development) on Children and Armed Conflict ➤
Learn about our other Birmingham Heroes ➤