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About MAREM:

MAREM (MApping REfugees′ arrivals at Mediterranean borders) is an interdisciplinary research project dealing with the situation of asylum seekers and refugees in the Mediterranean as well as with the corresponding national and European politics . The main goal of the project is to develop a Google-Earth-based documentation (1) of the arrival points and situation of refugees in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain, (2) of the corresponding national migration regimes, and (3) of the scientific and NGO networks dealing with this topic.

The project aims at drawing public and scientific attention to the situation related to asylum seekers and refugees in the Mediterranean, and at sharing evidence-based knowledge in order to support the improvement of refugees′ situation and of European asylum politics.


The aim of the research project MAREM is to gain a solid scientific understanding of current European migration policy, of the situation of asylum seekers and refugees as well as of scientific and non-governmental organisations dealing with this topic. At the same time, available and checked information on this highly up-to-date topic will be made accessible for the broader public by developing a Google-Earth-based information and knowledge platform based on the research findings generated within the project and the corresponding networks.


With the Schengen Treaties (1985, 1990 and Prüm 2005) the border controls between national states involved were reduced and abolished. A coordinated control of EU- (respectively Schengen states') external borders including the new agency Frontex was established. Concerning refugees and asylum seekers the so-called third-country-norm was defined regulating that asylum applications have to be managed in that Schengen-country where the applicant first entered. By this, the EU should be strengthened as a ′space of liberty, security and law′. But in fact, the EU-system of dealing with refugees and asylum seekers faces severe challenges. Refugee movements towards Europe from Asia, Near East and Africa concentrate in the Mediterranean EU-/Schengen-countries that are shaped by economic crisis and structural problems. As part of the EU as ′a space of law′ these countries are challenged to manage all applications of refugees and asylum seekers based on international, European and national law. But national and European institutions as well as many politicians and NGOs question the current situation. More than thousand persons annually die in the Mediterranean when trying to enter the EU. Asylum applications are not always managed efficiently as was proven e.g. by the German Administrative Court. The burden and costs of the European asylum system obviously are not distributed in a fair and balanced way between all member states.

Central research questions

The complex situation of European policies towards refugees and flight is relevant for European societies as well as for social sciences, especially migration research. In the MAREM project three levels are considered:

  • The macro political level of European and national migration regimes,
  • The meso level of migrants′ and refugees′ organisations and their supporters, and
  • The micro level of the individual stories of asylum seekers and refugees.

Central research questions of the project are:

  • How many people are fleeing across the Mediterranean Sea and what is the real situation of asylum seekers and refugees in their regions of departure as well as in the region of arrival in the EU?
  • Which political and organizational resources, programs and strategies are given to the countries and places in the Mediterranean by the national governments and the European Union to cope with the challenge of refugees and asylum seekers?
  • How are the national migration regimes of the Mediterranean EU-member states related among each other and with the other Schengen states, e.g. in terms of 'burden sharing'?
  • Which infrastructure of non-governmental organizations related to asylum and refugees exists in the five EU-member states, what are their actions and proposals towards refugees, national governments and the EU?

To the present date there is a lot of episodic information and scattered studies and documents. The MAREM-project aims at offering an evidence-based, open scientific platform that could integrate existing information and make accessible reliable data and studies.

Methodology: MAPPING

Publication and visualization of research findings in Google Earth:

In addition to the presentation of our findings in the text form we chose Mapping as a different method of research finding visualization. Innovative geo software as Google Earth allows the representation of different dimensions (layers), which can interactively be connected/linked by users. By linking micro and macro level aspects, the enormous complexity of the topic is to be considered. As the project should be constantly updated, the outcome of the mapping process will be only representative for the current state of knowledge.

The map will be available for download on this website and can then be integrated into the freely available Google Earth Software. Here you can find screenshots of the already existing beta version.

Funding and duration

MAREM is funded by inStudies at Ruhr-University Bochum as an innovative Teaching-Learning-activity from September 2013 up to August 2016. During this period an auto-sustaining system of funding and support will be developed.

InStudies BMBF