THE GAME: Strategic Tactics used by Informal Individuals to Ensure the Provision of Aid to Migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2018-2020.
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‘The Game’ is a playful term used by migrants transiting Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to describe the precarious and strategic endeavors taken to to cross illegally from BiH through Croatia and further into the Schengen Zone. In this game, migrants play numerous times, facing harsh police pushbacks to BiH if they ‘lose’. ’Winning’ only occurs by reaching their desired destination. Formal and informal actors play a type of game, the management and provision of aid to migrants within BiH. This is the subject of this thesis. This thesis describes the complications formal actors face in providing aid to migrants, and then delivers an assessment of the strategic actions of informal volunteers to ensure aid provision when formal systems are unable. The ethnographic data presented in this thesis is a result of qualitative, mixed-method research conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina in winter 2020, that cumulated in two case studies: Sarajevo and Tuzla. The analysis conducted on this research, draws on, and contributes to academic literature on migration studies, formal and informal organizations, hybrid governance and volunteerism. Results are examined in three ways. First, an institutional analysis is made assessing the restraints and complications formal actors face in providing aid to migrants. Second, an assessment is made of the strategic actions informal volunteers’ take to deliver aid when formal systems inadequately do so. Third, this thesis will analyze informal volunteer actions using three typologies of behavior: substitutive, complementary, and reformative. I conclude that the inadequate care provided by formal actors is not due to incapacity of institutions in BiH, but an unwillingness to compromise, coordinate or take responsibility for the migrants. To avoid this, states use a tactic of implicit delegation to defer the responsibility of care to the informal sector for migrants.