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Understanding refugee and migrant journeys to Europe

Time (GMT +00) 18:00 19:30
Hero image description: Sham Alem, 17, paints scenes inspired by official warnings and by the stories of people he knows, Ethiopia, 2017 Image credit:Gabriel Pecot/ODI Image license:CC-BY-NC-ND


Kate Adie OBE DL – Presenter, From Our Own Correspondent, BBC Radio 4


Professor Heaven Crawley @heavencrawley – Chair in International Migration, Coventry University, and Senior Research Associate, ODI

Dr Joanne Liu @JoanneLiu_MSF – International President, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Dr Jessica Hagen-Zanker – Research Fellow Migration, ODI

Ahmad Al-Rashid @jackahmed12 – Author, Syrian campaigner and Violence, Conflict and Development Postgraduate, SOAS


What is it like to travel to Europe over land and sea in order to secure a future for yourself and your family? Why are so many people willing to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean? What are their hopes and fears? And how is Europe responding?

Our expert panel unpacks these questions, drawing on interviews with hundreds of refugees and migrants who have reached Europe in recent years. The event explores the messy reality of refugee and migrant journeys, and delves into the decisions people make along the way, challenging the assumption that ‘everyone wants to come to Europe’.

In particular, the event explores the themes raised in a new book, Unravelling Europe’s ‘migration crisis': journeys over land and sea, and ODI research on migrant decision-making in countries of destination and transit.

The event is followed by a networking reception and an opportunity to purchase Unravelling Europe’s ‘migration crisis’: journeys over land and sea.


Kate Adie became a familiar figure through her work as BBC Chief News Correspondent. She is considered to be among the most reliable reporters, as well as one of the first British women, sending despatches from danger zones around the world. Kate is also the long-serving presenter of Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent and a presenter or contributor to many other radio and television programmes.

Professor Heaven Crawley is Chair of International Migration at Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations where she leads a team of researchers working on issues of migration, displacement and belonging. She has written and published extensively on a wide range of asylum and immigration issues including the causes of forced migration to Europe, gender issues in procedures for Refugee Status Determination, access to legal advice and representation, public attitudes towards asylum and immigration issues and children’s experiences of immigration controls, including detention, guardianship and the process of age assessment.

Dr Joanne Liu is a Canadian pediatric doctor, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Montreal, Professor of Practice of Medicine at McGill University, and the current International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders). Her time with MSF started in 1996, when she worked with Malian refugees in Mauritania. Since then, she has provided support after the tsunami in Indonesia, assisted people affected by the earthquake and cholera epidemic in Haiti, and worked with Somali refugees in Kenya. She also helped develop one of the first programs offering comprehensive medical care for survivors of sexual violence in Republic of Congo. She has worked in many conflict zones, including in Palestine, Central African Republic and Sudan’s Darfur region.

Dr Jessica Hagen-Zanker is a Research Fellow leading ODI’s migration research. Her research has focused on understanding how migration and other policies affect migrant decision-making, impacts of migration on migrants and their families, the interlinkages between migration and social protection, and remittances, covering a diverse range of countries, including Albania, Ethiopia and Nepal. She also has extensive experience in the design and analysis of household surveys, conducting systematic literature reviews and the analysis of social protection programmes and policies. Jessica holds a PhD in Public Policy from Maastricht University.

Ahmad Al-Rashid is a Syrian campaigner. He was born in Aleppo, Syria. He studied English literature before fleeing the country due to the conflict to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Ahmad worked there as a volunteer teaching English in the Syrian refugee camps and later on joined the UN to work for both the Syrian refugee response and the Iraqi displaced people response after Mosul fell for ISIS in 2014. Since his arrival in the UK mid-2015, Ahmad has been working with various groups and organizations advocating for refugee rights and child refugees. In 2017,  Ahmad graduated from  SOAS - University of London. He holds an MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development.  

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