Migration Series

What happens if people on the move encounter others who by means of their everyday actions and interactions can render environments hostile or who actively try to prevent this? What are the effects of these encounters on the places migrants inhabit and traverse? This article introduces a blog series that highlights a diversity of encounters between migrants and non-migrants[1] to put the reader in the shoes of those who are migrating, crossing borders and/or settling in. Through the series, we aim to show how both migrants and non-migrants navigate terrain that becomes hostile through modern manifestations and practices of nation-state borders amidst so-called ‘migration crises’.

With the deep political and socio-economic crisis, a large number of Venezuelans have fled to other countries, including Ecuador. Many people have journeyed on foot, earning them the name caminantes (walkers/hikers), and have encountered various challenges but also forms of solidarity along the way. This blog centres on the experiences of different actors who have provided aid to caminantes as they traverse Ecuador, turning the one-dimensional idea of migrants and refugees as victims on its head.

Granada is one of the few Spanish cities that established itself as a ‘shelter city’ for migrants, but despite the city administration’s pledge in 2015 to improve migration governance, bridge divides, and promote community building between migrant and non-migrant communities, selective indifference towards migrants persists. In light of several governance gaps caused by the failure of local authorities in Granada to go beyond the mere branding and enactment of the concept of shelter cities, various civil-society organizations (CSOs) have launched initiatives aimed at alleviating these tensions and are filling the gaps left by local authorities, writes former ISS MA student Christy Gamboa.

In Chile, recent initiatives to manage migration have been based on nation-state and sedentary imaginaries. These approaches to migration are challenged by the traditionally mobile and trans-national lives of the Aymara indigenous population residing in Colchane and Pisiga Carpa. Focusing on the Aymara residents of these so-called transit communities and initial reception points for migrants and refugees upsets pre-supposed differences between ‘migrants’ and ‘non-migrants’ and invites us to reconsider approaches to mobility. 

Transit migrants journeying the Americas to North America often pass through Necoclí, a seaside town close to the Colombia–Panama border and the Darien Gap. Upon their arrival, they frequently require medical attention but can only access emergency medical services. In this article, Carolina Aristizabal shows how a limited healthcare provisioning system designed for immobile populations has been reworked by humanitarian organizations to help transit migrants receive the care they need. She argues that new logics of inclusion and exclusion emerge as a result of such reconfigurations — a development that may lead in some cases to xenophobia in local communities.