Mobility in Crisis: An Agent-Based Model of Refugees’ Flight to Safety

  • Erika FrydenlundEmail author
  • Etta C. Jones
  • Jose J. Padilla
Part of the New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion book series (NASR, volume 7)


Much research has been done about refugees after fleeing crises, but far less is known about how mobility, or lack thereof, affects their journeys. While able-bodied refugees may be able to travel relatively quickly, those who support young children or others with mobility constraints experience a longer, more arduous migration. In this context, it is difficult for humanitarian organizations to adequately plan for those who may arrive much later than even the seemingly final stages of the population influx. This chapter explores refugees’ mobility challenges through a simulation approach. We rely on pedestrian movements and group formation research to create a baseline model of how forced migrant populations, at varying mobility levels, arrive at a point of safety. The model attempts to represent refugees traveling in groups, adjusting speeds to compensate for slower or faster members, and splitting into separate groups. Further, we explore how simulation initialization variation may affect simulation results as primary data is scarce. We relate insights from the model with data from a regional case study to create understanding of the situation and set up a research agenda.


Human mobility Humanitarian Conflict Physical disability Migration Refugees Forced displacement 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erika Frydenlund
    • 1
    Email author
  • Etta C. Jones
    • 2
  • Jose J. Padilla
    • 1
  1. 1.Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation CenterOld Dominion UniversitySuffolkUSA
  2. 2.Old Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA

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