Living in Refugee Camps in Berlin: Women’s Perspectives and Experiences, a collection edited by Hansjörg Dilger and Kristina Dohrn and written in collaboration with a Berlin-based organisation, International Women’s Space, seeks to focus in on the specific experiences of women living in different forms of asylum accommodation across the German capital. Jennifer Philippa Eggert welcomes this collaborative project as a vast and accessible resource that raises awareness of the experiences of refugee women.

Living in Refugee Camps in Berlin: Women’s Perspectives and Experiences. Hansjörg Dilger and Kristina Dohrn (eds) in collaboration with International Women’s Space. Weißensee Verlag. 2016.

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Forced migration has been part of human history since it has first been recorded, and it continues to shapes the lives of millions worldwide. According to UNHCR figures, as of late 2015, 65.3 million people were forcibly displaced from home. Of these, 39 per cent were hosted in the Middle East, 29 per cent in Africa and only six per cent in Europe. Despite the comparatively low numbers of individuals seeking refuge in Europe, the unprecedented rise in refugee arrivals in the summer and autumn of 2015, combined with the unpreparedness of local authorities, have led political analysts in the West to speak of a ‘refugee crisis’.

The pictures of thousands of men, women and children making their way over the Mediterranean and through South Eastern Europe to the west of the continent led to unprecedented interest in the stories of people who had left their homes in Syria and Iraq, but also Afghanistan, Iran, Eritrea and other Middle Eastern and African countries, in order to seek refuge in Western Europe. The media quickly caught up and reported about the ‘crisis’ daily.

However, many of these reports overlook the specific experiences and needs of women and girls seeking refuge in Europe. This is problematic from an analytical point of view, as it is impossible to fully understand refugees’ lives and experiences without taking into account the perspectives of refugees from all walks of lives. Treating them as one monolithic group also poses problems as far as work with refugees is concerned, as it brings with it the risk of overlooking the specific needs that a particular group of refugees might have. Continue reading…