Informing Refugee Communities in Greece: What Is Possible Within the Parameters of the Humanitarian Structure?

  • Victoria Jack


The “humanitarian government” has been critiqued for seeking not only to protect but simultaneously control communities affected by humanitarian crisis. This chapter examines the capacity of humanitarian information projects to meet the information needs of refugees within the constraints of the humanitarian structure. It is informed by the author’s experience working for a media initiative that sought to provide “news-you-can-use” to refugees and migrants during the height of the so-called European Union Refugee Crisis, when thousands of refugees and migrants arrived on Greek shores each day. Stories from Greece demonstrate the range of political, structural and ethical concerns that influenced decisions about what information was provided or withheld. The chapter concludes that there is a need for further research to explore the use of protection logics as a justification for concealing information from affected communities in situations of humanitarian crisis.


  1. Agier, M. (2011). Managing the undesirables. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  2. Alencar, A., Kondova, K., & Ribbens, W. (2019). The smartphone as a lifeline: An exploration of refugees’ use of mobile communication technologies during their flight. Media, Culture & Society, 4(6), 828–844. Scholar
  3. Dekker, R., Engbersen, G., Klaver, J., & Vonk, H. (2018). Smart refugees: How Syrian asylum migrants use social media information in migration decision-making. Social Media+Society, January–March, 1–11. Scholar
  4. Franklin, B. (2006). Preface. In B. Franklin (Ed.), Local journalism and local media: Making the local news (pp. xvii–xxii). London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gillespie, M., Ampofo, L., Cheesman, M., Faith, B., Iliadou, E., Issa, A., …, Skleparis, D. (2016). Mapping refugee media journeys: Smartphones and social media networks. Research report. The Open University/France Médias Monde. Retrieved January 7, 2019, from
  6. Gillespie, M., Osseiran, S., & Chessman, M. (2018). Syrian refugees and the digital passage to Europe: Smartphone infrastructures and affordances. Social Media and Society, January–March, 1–12. Scholar
  7. Jack, V. (2017). ‘There’s no media for refugees’: Information and communication in camps on the Thai-Burma border. Pacific Journalism Review, 23(2), 127–143. Scholar
  8. Jansen, B. (2008). Between vulnerability and assertiveness: Negotiating resettlement in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. African Affairs, 107(429), 569–587. Scholar
  9. Kivikuru, U. (2013). Upstairs downstairs: Communication contradictions around two African refugee camps. Journal of African Media Studies, 5(1), 35–51. Scholar
  10. Kutscher, N., & Kreß, L. (2018). The ambivalent potentials of social media use by unaccompanied minor refugees. Social Media+Society, 4(1), 1–10. Scholar
  11. Latonero, M., & Kift, P. (2018). On digital passages and borders: Refugees and the new infrastructure for movement and control. Social Media+Society, 1, 1–11. Scholar
  12. Robinson, L. (2004). Communication patterns in refugee camps. Paper presented at the annual International Studies Association conference, Montreal, Canada. Retrieved from
  13. Saltsman, A. (2010). Rumour versus information. Forced Migration Review, 36, 57–58.Google Scholar
  14. Saltsman, A. (2011). Displaced Iraqis in Jordan: Formal and informal information flows, and migratory decisions in a context of uncertainty. Refuge, 28(1), 81–96.Google Scholar
  15. Sommerfeldt, E. J. (2015). Disasters and information source repertoires: Information seeking and information sufficiency in post-earthquake Haiti. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 43(1), 1–22. Scholar
  16. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (1999). Protecting refugees: A field guide for NGOs. Retrieved January 7, 2019, from
  17. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2006a). Operational protection in camps and settlements: A reference guide of good practices in the protection of refugees and other persons of concern. Retrieved January 7, 2019, from
  18. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2006b). Practical guide to the systematic use of standards and indicators in UNHCR operations. Retrieved January 7, 2019, from
  19. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2011). UNHCR resettlement handbook (Rev. ed.). Retrieved January 7, 2019, from
  20. Williams, G. (2006). Profits before product? In B. Franklin (Ed.), Local journalism and local media: Making the local news (pp. 83–92). London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria Jack
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations