Dr Zana Vathi

An Edge Hill expert in migration is working on a project funded by the World Bank which will examine the experience of reintegrating Roma people in the Western Balkans.

Dr Zana Vathi, Reader in Social Sciences, was invited to work on the project funded by the World Bank and the European Commission, and her research will continue until June 2018.

Migration from the Western Balkans to member states of the European Union remains substantial, but several European states have decided to return migrants to their countries following a decision by the EU to regard Western Balkan countries as “safe countries of origin” which makes it more difficult for migrants to obtain legal asylum status in the EU.

Data suggests that a substantial number of return migrants belong to the Roma minority, and due to the disproportionate poverty and widespread socio-economic exclusion, Roma people are thought to face particular challenges to reintegrate upon their return to home countries.

Zana’s research will focus on assessing and identifying these challenges.

The focus in the context of return migration has, for a long time, been on the sustainability of returns, and very explicitly so in the context of Western Balkans.

However, the EU Commission and major stakeholders such as the World Bank are starting to shift the attention onto a more individualised needs-based approach and look at the sustainability of reintegration, considering the vulnerabilities of returnees.

She said: “The new project with the World Bank brings new research income to the university and has a strong focus on policy-making, as the findings will be directly reported to the EU Commission, which will then tailor its approach to the Western Balkans’ region.

“I am advocating for a people-oriented approach as the Western Balkans go through the challenging EU accession process.”

Zana has substantial experience in the field of migration research, having been involved in various projects since 2005. During this period, she conducted policy-oriented research in the Western Balkans sponsored by various major charities such the IOM (International Organization for Migration), Terre des Hommes and GIZ.

In 2013, Zana launched a project on return and reintegration to Albania, titled The Return and (Re)integration of Albanian Migration and Their Children to Albania: Implications for Policy-making, which was funded by the Edge Hill University Research Investment Fund.

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