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Secondary movements of Somalis within Europe

Final Report Summary - SECONDARY MOVEMENTS (Secondary movements of Somalis within Europe)

Since the end of the 1990s significant numbers of former refugees have made use of the right to free mobility as EU citizens and moved internally within the EU. It is estimated that one third of the Dutch Somali community (around 10 000 people) has moved to the United Kingdom (UK). Very little is known however about the specific characteristics of these movements. Based on 33 in-depth interviews with Dutch Somalis in London and Leicester the Secondary movements project sought to answer the question: Who makes the decision to move to the UK after having migrated from Somalia to the Netherlands and why?

The project had three objectives.

1) The first objective was to reconsider migration theories in light of the fact of onward movements such as those of Somalis from the Netherlands to the UK. Migration is still often treated statically as a move from a sending country to a receiving country, whereas such secondary movements demonstrate that it is a much more dynamic process. It was found that whilst for many, leaving the Netherlands and moving to the UK is rooted in economic, social and political differences between the two countries, for others, especially those who are refugees, their relocation from the Netherlands to the UK could also be seen as a follow-up to an earlier movement that was interrupted along the way. In this context, secondary movement can be seen both as a distinct 'migration', but also as part of a wider chain of connections or potential connections that challenge the linear nature of much migration theory.

2) The second objective was to understand the perceived differences between the UK and the Netherlands. Interviews show that the UK is perceived as being an easier place to find employment, set up a business and get access to higher education by many Somalis. English as an international language and the larger Somali community in the UK are also crucial contributors in understanding Somali's preference for the UK. Another important reason for leaving the Netherlands had to do with an increasing emphasis on assimilation rather than integration. The UK was perceived by the Somali informants as providing more opportunities to uphold a distinct ethnic and religious identity.
3) The third objective of the research project was to engage with debates about transnationalism and feelings of belonging. The Dutch Somali communities in the UK that have come into being have ties not only with Somalia, but also with the Netherlands. Most research on transnationalism focuses on the links that migrants in the diaspora have with their home country, and relationships to other countries are rarely discussed. Differences were found between young people and their parents and between cities, in this case between the Dutch Somali communities in London and Leicester.

It is hoped that the results of the research project Secondary movements will be beneficial to policymakers in the field of intra-EU movements, migration and integration. Researchers and policymakers in the field of migration often only concentrate on moments of border crossing and fail to see the wider picture. This project shows that the move to the UK was for some Somalis something they always wanted to do, but were not able to realise for a long time. Dutch citizenship gave them the legal security to finally go where they wanted to go for years. The project also provides an insight into patterns of integration of refugees in EU countries. Policymakers and politicians in the field of refugee integration generally expect refugees to integrate within a national context, but very little is known about intra-European linkages and how these influence both future mobility patterns and overall processes of integration.

Dr Ilse van Liempt