Migration and religious diversity are more relevant than ever in today’s context. Migration numbers speak for themselves – there were circa 281 million international migrants in the world in 2020, which equates to 3.6 % of the global population. Some people freely migrate for work, a better quality of life or simply to explore a new country. But sometimes, migration is not a choice – people migrate to escape war or persecution. Leaving their home countries, migrants face several social issues. One of these – is religion and, most importantly, the ability to practice their faith in the host country. According to Migration Data Portal, migration has become much more diverse in terms of the origins of migrants. And this also raises many issues in the area of religious diversity.
Furthermore, Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine has led to new challenges regarding migration and religious diversity in Europe. The millions of refugees from Ukraine add to the migration challenges and the situation of war refugees in new countries. Europe needs to be prepared and to have access to up-to-date, cross-national, comprehensive research, knowledge and strategies to properly manage the migration crisis and help refugees settle in their new country.
To better understand these challenges, COST Action COREnet (Connecting Theory and Practical Issues of Migration and Religious Diversity) brings together researchers from various disciplines, stakeholders and practice field organisations from European and other countries to fill gaps and research needs in the field of religion and migration. COREnet seeks to deliver new findings and knowledge directly into the public debate and different practice fields.
This 4-year Action aims to better explain, understand and analyse the pertinent issues and challenges, and to forward viable solutions and ways to support migrants, migration and religious diversity in an inclusive Europe.
The network aims thus to contribute to overcoming divisions within and across European countries through a collaborative approach that would add to existing social scientific knowledge on migration and religious diversity: the study of religions and theological insights explaining the narratives of migrants and refugees.
Started in October 2021, COREnet currently has 135 members, including academics, researchers and representatives of various organisations working in the field of religion and migration from 36 European countries and the Republic of South Africa.
‘While we prepared this Action proposal and started our work, we had no idea how relevant migration and religious diversity would become in 2022 in the context of the renewed Russian invasion of Ukraine. The 2015 refugee crisis and the new reality of the Russian war in Ukraine show that Europe must be ready to reconsider social and cultural integration processes for war refugees and migrants. COREnet plans to strengthen the cooperation among researchers and stakeholders from Europe and beyond in the migration and religious diversity field, focusing on the connection between theory and practice. We believe this cooperation might result in the production of innovative ideas and sustainable solutions helping Europe to prevent and, if not possible, to be prepared for the future crisis in the area of migration and religious diversity’ – says the COST Action chair, professor Milda ALIŠAUSKIENĖ.
In the first year of its existence, COREnet members participated in 18 Working Groups, 8 Core Group and 3 Management Committee meetings. The first Action PhD Summer School for early career researchers on migration and religion was organised in Kaunas, Lithuania, in June 2022. Also, 8 early career researchers of religion and migration deepened their knowledge through short-term scientific missions in Germany, UK, Spain, Norway, Portugal, Poland and Slovenia over this period.
In 2023 COREnet will host Narrative Cafes, where researchers, together with stakeholders, media representatives and practitioners from the field, will discuss challenges and opportunities that can improve the experiences of migrants in a foreign country. More information on these events will be shared in the near future.
Finally, it is also worth mentioning that COREnet members have been working collaboratively since the early days of the Action to prepare a cross-European repository of data and research, including links to relevant websites and tools allowing for cross-country analysis. It is hoped that this data will aid researchers and various stakeholder organisations in their attempts to better manage the migration crisis and improve the challenges of migrant inclusion.
More information about COREnet plans, activities and achievements will be shared soon.