SHARE Seminar on Pre-departure Processing and Cultural Orientation: Preparing for the integration of resettled refugees in Europe

Click here to read the seminar programme and here for the full conference report.

Istanbul 3-4 May 2018, ICMC held, in partnership with the Centralised Agency for Reception (COA) in The Netherlands, an on-site visit and seminar on Pre-Departure processing and Cultural Orientation (CO). The seminar, held at the ICMC’s Resettlement Support Center (RSC) in Istanbul, Turkey, was organized within the frame of the SHARE Integration project; building a network of (small-size) cities, towns and local actors committed to offering protection and welcome for resettled refugees in Europe.

A host of experts involved in resettlement were invited to present in Istanbul on approaches and best practices for cultural orientation provided to refugees as preparation for resettlement. Presenters included government actors from Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Turkey as well as civil society: Consorzio Communitas (Italy), JRS Portugal, the IOM and ICMC. In total, 30 representatives from NGOs, governments, municipal authorities and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) attended the seminar.

Resettlement in Europe has increased steadily over the past years. Currently the EU implements a new scheme for at least 50.000 persons in need of international protection to be resettled by 31 October 2019, which will give a further boost to EU resettlement efforts. As of to date countries have pledged 27.000 places for the resettlement of Syrians from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon and around 7.000 for the resettlement from countries along the Central Mediterranean route, particularly from Niger.

While resettlement in Europe is growing, the ultimate success will depend on how quickly refugees will be able to rebuild their new lives in a new community. Pre-departure cultural orientation can be a helpful tool for facilitating early integration and promoting refugees’ independence. Participants discussed key objectives as well as methodologies for providing cultural orientation both pre-departure and post-arrival, and the range of stakeholders that can be involved in its delivery. Innovative methodologies such as programmes targeting children and youth, videos made by national and municipal reception actors, video conferencing with cultural mediators, as well as online mentorship and live-chat tools. Participants also debated strategic messaging and opportunities for dialogue with refugees who are resettled to smaller municipalities, rural areas and to countries that encounter secondary migration. Finally, a study visit to observe the Cultural Orientation training delivered by COA to prepare refugees for their lives in the Netherlands was organised within the frame of the EU FRANK project, providing participants the opportunity to see cultural orientation delivered in practice.

For more information on the SHARE project, contact ICMC Europe Programme Manager, Magdalena Boehm at boehm@icmc.net.