Birmingham heroes: Migration & displacement

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


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.

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