• Cecilie Bille-Brahe Raahauge
  • Michelle Niebuhr Jensen
4. term, Global Refugee Studies, Master (Master Programme)
More and more young North African migrants show up in asylum systems in Northern Europe. What differentiates these minors from other unaccompanied minor asylum seekers is that they do not flee war or other disasters and they do not stay in the asylum system long enough for their cases to be processed. Instead, they bounce back and forth between the irregular market and the European asylum systems. They exhibit a different - often aggressive and criminal - behaviour than the rest of the youths, and the Danish social authorities do not know how to help them or what to do with them. Since it is a relatively new group to show up in the Danish asylum system, the Red Cross has little work experience with these boys. Although this type of asylum seeker seems to pose a difficult issue in various Northern European countries, there exists very little research. This thesis is therefore intended to feed into the limited knowledge and literature about young North African migrants.

In the thesis, we explore the life stories of seven North African unaccompanied minors in the Danish asylum system. We analyse their stories from different perspectives and as a result we answer the research question: Who is the group of North African youths with street-oriented behaviour from Centre Gribskov? What coping mechanisms and migration strategies are connected to this group of individuals?
Firstly, we examine the North African boys’ life stories through their identity narratives and the way that they portray themselves in relation to their situation and others. The issues of identity, belonging and categorisation are explored mainly through theoretical concepts posited by Nira Yuval-Davis, Liisa Malkki, Marianne Gullestad and Howard S. Becker.
Hereafter, we take a look at the behaviour that the boys exhibit and the methods that they use to cope with their situation. To unfold these issues, we mainly draw upon Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman’s theories on
stress and coping mechanisms. Furthermore, we add a dimension which draws on the theoretical components of Gresham Matza and David Sykes’ theory on techniques of neutralisation which helps us to shed light on the boys’ justifications of their criminal behaviour.
Finally, we zoom out and examine the central reasons for the North African boys’ migration. Additionally, we investigate how they use the European asylum systems, and we explain what networks the boys make use of and how they do this. Our main theorists in this section are Stephen Castles and Mark Miller, Hans Lucht and Emma Herman.

One of the more important findings in the thesis is the fact that the boys all come from harsh and challenging backgrounds. They portray a feeling of being outcasts and often feel that their surroundings label them with negative markings. Moreover, the boys draw on various personal, social, material and cultural resources and use emotion-focused coping strategies such as avoidance, distancing, escape and positive reappraisals in order to cope with their emotions and manage their stressful situation. They use both the asylum system and the irregular market as a way of survival, but they do not all seem to have residence permits as an end goal. They chase the European dream and a place to feel free, but they all have difficulties actually making specific future plans.
LanguageEnglish
Publication date1 Apr 2014
Number of pages98
External collaboratorRøde Kors
Netværksmedarbejder Gitte Smed info@rodekors.dk
Information group
ID: 196093273