Middlesex University has been given a research grant by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development to examine the ongoing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.
The funding will be used to carry out urgent data collection in Greece, Italy and Malta, which will then swiftly be made available to policymakers, practitioners, migrant support organisations and the wider research community.
It is hoped that by tracking and mapping migrant flows across the Mediterranean, as well as surveying more than 750 individual migrants about their experiences, the research will help to influence the EU's response to one of the biggest challenges it has faced in its history.
"Through our field work in the region, the University has developed excellent relationships with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, migration support organisations and governmental bodies, as well as the European Parliament, which is offering to use the research findings in support of a public information campaign," commented Middlesex University's Professor of International Politics Brad Blitz, who is coordinating the research.
"This project is particularly important because it will allow the research team to direct its insights into the current challenges of receiving and protecting migrants in the Mediterranean to key policy makers."
Commenting on the importance of raw data in dealing with the crisis, ESRC Head of International Development Research Craig Bardsley said: "Given the unprecedented levels of migration across the Mediterranean this spring and summer, and the catastrophic death toll that resulted, there was an urgent need for new research to better understand the dynamics and drivers of the crisis.
"With highly vulnerable people in the midst of a complex international crisis, there is an important role for highly trained, independent social scientists to gather accurate, reliable data."
Joining Professor Blitz on the research team are Professor Eleonore Kofman, Dr Alessio D'Angelo, Dr Nicola Montagna and Martin Baldwin-Edward.
Photo by Irish Defence Forces (Creative Commons 2.0)