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Healthcare at the Borders: Managing Camps and Informal Settlements for Refugees and Migrants

Project description

A medical perspective of migrant camps

Most migrants heading for Europe are young and healthy. But they are exposed to serious risks during their journey and even as they reach the host countries. These risks include the living conditions in migrant and refugee camps. Focusing on humanitarian healthcare in Europe, the EU-funded HeBo project will conduct an ethnographic investigation of governmental and non-governmental healthcare facilities at migrant camps, hotspots and informal settlements on crucial sites at European borders. It will study migrants' access to healthcare, the connection between the right to basic healthcare and EU border policies, and the implementation of healthcare practices under existing migration management in the EU.


The management of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers is one the most complex issues the EU is facing: HeBo aims to tackle it from the perspective of healthcare implementation in migrant camps and informal settlements situated within the European territory. In such spaces, both healthcare actions and their omission assume specific meanings, including the form of border management technology. HeBo thus focuses in particular on the following main research objects: A) the management of migrants in contemporary Europe through the lens of the right to healthcare, B) the relationship between the implementation of the right to healthcare and European border policies, and C) the implementation of the right to health as a translation of the politics of life and the differentiated judgement of lives underlying the current migration management in the EU. While the implementation of healthcare in humanitarian contexts has been largely studied in extra-European countries, it remains understudied for camps and, in particular, informal settlements within the European space. Through ethnographic inquiry on governmental and non-governmental healthcare units, HeBo focuses on three crucial sites across the EU: the islands of Lampedusa (Italy) and Lesbos (Greece), and the area of Calais (France). HeBo will build on the expertise that Dr. Alunni developed in his previous work on healthcare within Roma camps in Italy. Professor Didier Fassin, who will supervise HeBo, is a leading scholar in the field of humanitarianism and on issues of power and health inequalities, and will therefore support Dr. Alunni with his experience. Due to the excellent quality of its infrastructure, scholarly research and staff, the IRIS (Interdisciplinary Research Institute in Social Sciences) at the EHESS (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris) will constitute the most appropriate academic environment for Dr. Alunni to become a leading social science scholar in the European Research Area.


Net EU contribution
€ 184 707,84
54 bd raspail
75270 Paris

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00