HI HERE is the result of extensive research regarding systems of refugee reception and is based on fieldwork conducted in Southern Italy during the summer 2015*. The App aims to translate research into action and to help facilitate the further gathering of data from the bottom-up to enhance the services of protection.
* Research conducted by Martina Manara for the completion of an MSc in Regional and Urban Planning Studies (London School of Economics, November 2015). Dr. Nancy Holman supervised the dissertation “The land beyond the sea. Can territorial planning enhance refugee settlement?”, while Caterina Pedò assisted the fieldwork.
Analysis of needs
HI HERE offers a concrete response to some of the critical aspects of reception, as reported by asylum seekers in Southern Italy and analysed in the research.
Numerous European countries increasingly adopt dispersal strategies of reception, separating refugees from ethnically similar groups, which could otherwise constitute a primary source of material, informational and emotional support. Equally, relative to the case study, bridging social networks and channels for integration within the local communities are rare.
Often asylum seekers have little information about local services of reception and asylum rights. This is due to several factors: the overcrowding of certain facilities for reception, inefficient systems of communication by leading organizations, issues of distrust between some humanitarian operators and their beneficiaries, barriers to accessing primary documents (e.g. linguistic barriers and/or the complexity of bureaucracy), etc.
Numerous European countries allocate asylum seekers to areas suffering from multiple deprivations. Social isolation and scarce information lock asylum seekers to those areas, even though opportunities for economic and social integration are often absent. This is particularly valid for the case study area analysed in Southern Italy.
Asylum seekers often struggle to empower themselves, as their voices cannot reach other refugees, institutions and wider society. Most of the asylum seekers interviewed for the research lived in conditions of enforced silence and invisibility. For example, they could not denounce the inefficiencies of the reception system and/or provide bottom-up monitoring.
Coping with needs
Most asylum seekers invest all of their savings to buy smartphones to connect into wi-fi hot spots and access social networks (e.g. Facebook). They do so:
• To catch up with dispersed family members and countrymen in Italy and all over Europe.
• To share comments on the host territories in search of new opportunities.
• To gather information on asylum rights and local services of reception.
Why not create an App that makes this possible?
HI HERE is our response!