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Children of the crisis: ethnographic perspectives on unaccompanied refugee youth in and en route to Europe

In the summer months of 2015 , when people across Europe were coming to terms with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees, journalists and political commentators were quick to label the momentary breakdown of long-established European strategies of deterrence against migrants and refugees as a ‘crisis’.

This ‘crisis’, the emerging narratives suggested,was not one of the people forced to leave behind their countries due to violence, war or chronic uncertainty, but a ‘crisis’ of the European countries who could no longer keep the movements of displaced people at bay. As this ‘crisis’ manifested itself through depictions of the seemingly endless masses of people crossing borders, climbing fences or camping out in parks, one figure came to occupy centre stage: the child refugee.

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