Accepted paper:

Civilian Support to Rejected Asylum Seekers: Enabling irregular migration from Norway to France


Thea Rabe (Nord University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper uncovers how civilian support to rejected asylum seekers in Norway enable irregular movements and residency within the Schengen area. This arguably symbolises a rejection of a minimalist perception of humanitarianism within contemporary civil society movements in Europe.

Paper long abstract:

A transpiring number of young Afghans who have had their asylum claim rejected in Norway, have disappeared from Norwegian reception centres in recent years (Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, 2018). To evade return to Afghanistan, many of the young Afghans abscond Norway and travel to other Schengen-member states. This paper analyses the support that these migrants receive after they leave Norway. It is argued that civil society movements support and facilitate irregular migration and residency of these young migrants. The article conveys what kind of support irregular migrants receive from civilians and how this support enabled their ability to undertake irregular migration and residency within the Schengen area. The argument is based on an analysis of civil support to irregular migration, from the migrants' point of view. It draws upon concepts of enabling humanitarianism (Sinatti, 2019) and subversive humanitarianism (Vandevoordt, 2019). The analysis is based on empirical material collected during fieldwork in Paris with a group of young Afghans who had absconded Norway and lived in the French capital. The type of support that the young migrants received included facilitation of mobility, facilitation of residency, legal assistance, food, shelter and emotional support. Based on these findings, it is argued that the support that the migrants received can be seen as both subversive humanitarian acts and enabling humanitarianism. The article shed light on contemporary civil initiatives in Europe that go beyond "bare life" and suggest that this symbolise a rejection of a minimalist perception of humanitarianism within civil society movements in Europe.

panel AA12
Helping in an era of hostility: Political agency and moral contestations in civil society movements for and by migrants