Global Migration Centre
08 April 2021

New Publication: Redefining Humanitarianism in the Making

The Global Migration Centre is pleased to present the Global Migration Centre Research Paper Nº28, Redefining Humanitarianism in the Making: Grassroots/Volunteer Organisations in Samos (Greece) by Yaël Parrotta, ex-aequo winner of the 2020 Global Migration Award.

Redefining Humanitarianism in the Making: Grassroots/Volunteer Organisations in Samos (Greece)

By Yaël Parrotta

Ex aequo winner of the Global Migration Award 2020


The “European Refugee Crisis” witnessed European states adopting specific policies aimed at securitising and externalising of the bordering of migration. One of their main consequences resulted in the creation of “hotspots” where living conditions and rights of “people on the move” quickly started to deteriorate.

As a result, civilian movements, and later grassroots/volunteer organisations which are the focus of this paper, stepped into the humanitarian void left by states and traditional actors and soon reshaped the way humanitarianism was understood and practiced. Drawing on the work done in the field of critical humanitarian studies and building on interviews and active participation during six weeks of fieldwork, this paper argues that looking at the humanitarian practices of such organisations in the specific context of the Samos hotspot (Greece), allows us to go beyond some of the structural and underlying flaws of traditional humanitarianism and  redefine it.


Yaël Parrotta graduated in September 2020 with a Master degree in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute in Geneva. During her studies, she mainly did research on conflict transformation, humanitarian practices and migration issues. She is currently working as an academic intern at the Humanitarian Diplomacy Section at the FDFA. She is particularly interested in issues related to humanitarian or peacebuilding policies both relevant in migratory or protracted conflict contexts. Contact