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Northumbria  professor chosen to join UK in a Changing Europe project



A protest for Ukraine is held outside a public building
UKICE, an academic thinktank, works to generate independent research on UK-EU relations | Photo: Gayatri Malhotra

New research analysing responses to the displacement of people since the beginning of the 2022 invasion of Ukraine will be the focus of a prestigious fellowship awarded to a Northumbria University academic.

Political Geographer, Professor Kathryn Cassidy, has been appointed as one of 10 new Senior Fellows by the academic thinktank, UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE), which works to generate independent research on UK-EU relations, the UK post-Brexit, and the UK’s place in the world.

The fellowships are funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Professor Cassidy’s research, which has been awarded almost £370,000, will analyse responses to the displacement of people from Ukraine in three countries – Poland, Romania and the UK. Her research team will work with policy-makers, organisations from the voluntary and community sector, host communities, and refugees from Ukraine living in all three countries.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and the related displacement of millions of people from their homes to other countries in Europe, prompted a range of responses from public debates and policy-makers, including the removal of barriers to travel to and settle in countries across Europe.

Professor Cassidy’s three-year project entitled Debordering Europe through the 2022 Ukrainian Refugee Crisis: Analysis of Responses in the UK, Poland and Romania, will provide in-depth analysis of not only what these responses have been, but also what they mean for the UK in terms of its positioning and geopolitical relations with the European Union and the rest of the world.

“This research will build upon work I have been carrying out since 2012 into everyday bordering – the embedding of border and immigration checks into everyday encounters – in the UK and its impacts on not just mobile people, but also public sector institutions and workers,” explained Professor Cassidy. “However, as well as extending this research to Poland and Romania, the fellowship will also enable me to draw upon expertise in labour migration from communities in the Ukrainian-Romanian borderlands developed during my PhD.

“The expert support of the UKICE team will also offer me the opportunity to engage policy-makers, the media and other non-academic audiences in the findings of the research. The findings will be timely given not only the scale of the displacement but also that responses to accommodate and welcome people from Ukraine are counter to policy-making in a number of European countries in recent years, which has broadly sought to strengthen measures to exclude those seeking sanctuary.”

Research methods will include a survey and focus groups with hosts and people from Ukraine living with host families in Poland, Romania and the UK. Also planned are interviews with decision-makers in community and voluntary sector organisations, policy-makers in all three countries, and in-depth analysis of policies, parliamentary debates and media discourse surrounding government responses to the displacement. This approach will enable the development of a detailed understanding of factors shaping bordering processes and practices during and after the invasion.

From 2019 to 2021, in research funded by the Leverhulme Trust, Professor Cassidy carried out analysis of bordering processes and practices, including a study of the institutionalisation of bordering within three different parts of the UK’s public sector: health care, higher education and social security.

“I am delighted that Kathryn has joined the UK in a Changing Europe team for what promises to be an exciting new phase in the life of the organisation,” said Anand Menon, Director of UKICE and Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King’s College London.

Professor Cassidy is a member of Northumbria’s department of Geography and Environmental Sciences. Northumbria was recently ranked second in the UK for research power in Geography and Environmental Studies, with over 90 per cent of research outputs rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

Full details of the research projects being pursued by the other UKICE Senior Fellows can be found here.

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EU journalism prize awarded for investigation into migrant boat shipwreck



EU Parliament journalism prize awarded for investigation into migrant boat shipwreck
A Greek, German and British consortium has won the 2023 Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for investigating journalism.

A Greek, German and British consortium has won the 2023 Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for investigating the Adriana shipwreck, which left over 600 migrants dead off Pylos in Greece.

The joint investigation by the Greek investigative outlet Solomon, in collaboration with Forensis, the German public broadcaster StrgF/ARD, and the British newspaper The Guardian revealed how the deadliest migrant shipwreck in recent history happened as a result of the actions taken by the Greek Coast Guard. It also reveals inconsistencies in the Greek authorities’ official accounts.

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, Pina Picierno, Vice-President responsible for the Prize, and Juliane Hielscher, President of the Berlin Press Club and representative of the 28 members of the independent European-wide Jury, participated in the award ceremony held in the Daphne Caruana Galizia Press Room of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“Today, as every year, we honour Daphne Caruana Galizia’s memory with a prize that is a powerful reminder of her fight for truth and justice. Journalists around the world continue to be targeted just for doing their job, but they refuse to be silenced. This Parliament stands by their side in this long-standing battle to safeguard press freedom and media pluralism in Europe and beyond”, said Metsola.

When accepting the prize on behalf of the winning consortium, Iliana Papangeli of Solomon said: “The fatal event has forced us to confront questions about so-called European values and where the EU really stands on protecting human life – regardless of passport, ethnicity, race, gender, disability, or class. This joint investigation showed how violent and restrictive EU migration policies are, ultimately leading to a massive loss of life”.

Between 3 May and 31 July 2023, more than 700 journalists from the 27 EU countries submitted their stories for consideration. Twelve of these submissions were shortlisted by the jury before the overall winner was decided.

About the winning story

The investigation took an in-depth look into the events surrounding the loss of the fishing trawler Adriana on 14 June this year some 50 nautical miles off Pylos, in south-western Greece, killing over 600 migrants who had left Libya some days earlier.

Over 20 interviews were made with survivors, and court documents and coastguard sources were looked into. The findings detail missed rescue opportunities and offers of assistance that were ignored, whereas the survivors’ testimonies indicate that it was the attempts by the Greek coastguard to tow the trawler that ultimately caused its sinking. The Greek coastguard denied that it attempted to tow the trawler.

The fateful night was simulated by Forensis using interactive 3D modelling of the trawler thanks to data from the coastguard’s log and testimony of the coast guard vessel’s captain, as well as from flight paths, maritime traffic data, satellite imagery and videos taken by nearby shipping vessels and other sources.

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Three countries to receive over €450 million in EU aid after natural disasters



Photo of a small city in Romania
Romania will receive €33.9 million following damage caused by severe 2022 drought | Photo : Mircea Solomiea

The European Parliament has approved nearly €455 million in EU Solidarity Fund aid in response to recent natural disasters in Romania, Italy and Türkiye.

MEPs expressed their “deepest solidarity with all the victims, their families and all the individuals affected” by the natural disasters in Romania, Italy and Türkyie. They pointed out to the “increasing number of severe and destructive natural disasters in Europe”, stressing that “due to climate change extreme weather events such as those observed in Romania and Italy resulting in emergencies are going to further intensify and multiply”.

The European Commission has proposed to use the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to grant financial assistance of € 454,835,030to the three countries. EUSF assistance will cover parts of the costs of emergency and recovery operations like repairing damaged infrastructure, securing preventive infrastructure and the protection of cultural heritage, as well as clean-up operations. Under the fund’s rules, emergency and recovery operations may be financed by the EUSF retroactively from day one of a disaster.

The aid package was approved by 593 votes in favour, 11 votes against and 22 abstentions.

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Writing competition for children in the UK is open for submissions



Photo of children in a classroom taking part in a writing activity
Primary school aged children from across the UK can submit their own original short story until 8pm Friday 10 November

A writing competition for children in the UK is currently receiving submissions.

Primary school aged children from across the UK can submit their own original short until 8pm Friday 10 November. 

The competition, which is supported by BBC Teach, encourages children of all abilities to dive deep into their imagination and write the story they would love to read in 500 words or less, without fear of spelling, grammar or punctuation errors. 

Competition prizes

50 finalists, along with their parents or carers, will be invited to attend the grand final in February 2024 at Buckingham Palace. The event will be shown as part of a special 500 Words programme with The One Show on World Book Day®, Thursday 7 March 2024.  

At the event, the bronze, silver and gold winners of both age groups, 5-7 and 8-11, will receive a selection of exciting prizes, including having their stories read by famous faces and a bundle of books to help continue their love of the written word. 

The two gold winners will receive not only the height of judge, Sir Lenny Henry, in books, but 500 books for their schools.

Silver winners will get their hands on the height of Her Majesty in books, and bronze winners will receive the average height of a 7 or 11 year old in books. 

All of their stories will be illustrated by children’s illustrators – Joelle Avelino, Axel Scheffler, Fiona Lumbers, Sue Cheung, Jamie Smart, and Steven Lenton – framed, and put into a 500 Words winners’ book. 

Every finalist will receive a £20 National Book Token and their stories will be recorded and published to the BBC Teach website.  

“We are delighted to be running this year’s 500 Words competition. It goes to the heart of everything we do in BBC Education. Ever since it began, the short story writing competition has always been for every child, no matter what their ability. It is all about creativity with no need to worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar”, says Helen Foulkes, Head of BBC Education.

Every story will be entered into a random draw, where one lucky winner will receive a ticket to the grand final, and their school will receive a bundle of 500 books and literacy wall art of their choice. 

Since the competition first launched in 2011, it has received over one million entries.

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