Theses Master's

Civil Society & Irregular Migration in Northeastern France: The Formation of NGO Support Networks from Sangatte to the Present

Demuynck, Valere

A humanitarian crisis has been developing in northeastern France since the 1990s. As migrants pass through the coast of what is today known as the Hauts-de-France in an effort to cross the English Channel and claim asylum in the United Kingdom, they confront an antagonistic response by the French government that withholds regular access to food, water, medical care, and shelter. The absence of these services compounds with potential threats to their physical and mental health that they have already faced before arrival in the country.

Mostly “irregular” migrants, also known as undocumented,” they lack access to the majority of state benefits otherwise offered to “regular” migrants, or those who arrive through codified legal channels. In response, civil society organizations have attempted to fill the void left by the absence of state assistance. To support their work, organizations across the coast have coalesced into a series of partnership networks that transcend size, date of establishment, and resources. This case study seeks to understand these partnerships by investigating the following research question: Why have these NGO networks developed along the coast in such a way?

Using a mixed-methods research approach to address this question, the study found that network formation has taken place during periods of time when the state has developed increasingly antagonistic policies toward undocumented migrants since the late 1990s. In particular, two state-mandated migrant camps catalyzed the coalescence of NGO networks in the region: the Sangatte Reception Center (1999-2002) and the Jules Ferry Center and surrounding area known as the Calais “Jungle” (2014-2016). In particular, the circumstances during and after the Sangatte Reception Center began the process of network coalescence that subsequently accelerated after the “Jungle” was dismantled in 2016.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Nettelfield, Lara J.
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
August 3, 2022