Capacity management of migrant accommodation centers using approximate dynamic programming

Elvan Gökalp, M. Selim Cakir, Ioannis Kougkoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


Irregular migration has become a major macro-economic and political challenge. Due to rising political conflicts and income inequality across the world, the number of migrants is expected to increase exponentially over the coming decade. Thus, it is of critical importance to effectively use the limited resources allocated to humanitarian operations for irregular migration. In this paper we model the problem of capacity management and migrant transfers within a network of migrant accommodation centres with stochastic dynamic programming. Our study extends the literature on stochastic modelling and humanitarian operations by applying Approximate Dynamic Programming (ADP) into a new context. The model is translatable in other similar migratory routes and locations around the world where governments need to deal with uncertain numbers of irregular migrants. We test our approach on five Greek islands which have been the main migrant arrival points during the European Migrant Crisis. The results show that ADP provides a better computational performance than a simple myopic heuristic. The sensitivity analysis gives insights to the decision-makers about the impact of parameter values on the policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1198-1210
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Operational Research Society
Issue number6
Early online date13 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022


  • Dynamic Programming
  • Humanitarian operations
  • Stochastic Programming
  • Strategic planning
  • Sustainable Development Goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Strategy and Management
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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