PRIO/NCHS researchers contribute to immigration and refugee debate in the Norwegian media

‘Syrian refugees strike at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station’ by Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

In the wake of the Syrian conflict and against the backdrop of current debates on Europe’s capacity to receive refugees, PRIO and NCHS researchers have addressed the issue in several Norwegian media platforms.

In response to Helge Lurås’ op-ed Innvandringsdebattens tabu (The immigration debate’s taboo), from the 4th of September, Tove Heggli SagmoMarta Bivand ErdalRojan Tordhol EzzatiMaria Gabrielsen Jumbert and Håvard Nygård have challenged two of the premises raised by Lurås’ publication and linked to current immigration debates. Their first  argument contests the notion that multi-ethnic societies are unstable and fragile. It is claimed that there are no simple and straightforward relationships between ethnically divided societies and conflicts. Instability and conflict, according to them, are most prominently influenced by a state’s capacity to keep control over its own territory, and a political system’s ability and willingness to include all the country’s ethnic groups in the political process. Hence, the risk of conflict is not linked to a country having many ethnic groups, it is rather seen as a result of an unequal distribution of power.The second argument disputes the idea that migration should be minimized to protect Europe’s welfare society. This claim is dismissed as immigration is argued as important precisely in order to maintain Europe’s welfare society due to a prospected population decline in the long term. With solid and effective integration programs, migrants can use their expertise to effectively contribute to their host communities. Correspondingly, despite of growing tensions, debates on the record-high influx of migrants and refugees in Europe often tend to overlook the wider picture whereby the largest migration increase is taking place between countries in the South and the number of immigrants who have arrived in Europe in 2015 amounts to only 0,068% of its population.

Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert, senior researcher at PRIO and NCHS, also integrated a table of panelists in NRK’s TV program Urix aired on September 10th and focusing on the current refugee crisis. Maria discussed, among other things, the consequences for the EU member states along the Schengen external border, with a responsibility to control their part of the border on behalf of the rest, and the EU’s ability to tackle the issue and frame a common response for those seeking asylum and protection. Furthermore, on the same day, Maria participated in a online chat and responded to internet users’ questions in connection to the current refugee crisis. Maria debated, inter alia, why are there so many refugees right now, where they come from and why Europe is a main destination. The full chat can be found here.

In a similar fashion,  on Septemebr 10th, PRIO’s senior researchers Håvard Mokleiv Nygård and Tove Heggli Sagmo also addressed the refugee debate in the media. Håvard contributed to TV2’s God Morgen Norge program and to  NRK P1 Radio’s program Her og Nå while Tove took part in the Fremmedkoselig Dag program at Radio NRK P3. More recently, on 15 September, Håvard spoke on the issue in the evening news session Dagsnytt Atten of Radio NRK P2.