SHARE study: Another Story from the "Refugee Crisis:" Resettlement in Small Towns and Rural Areas in France
The SHARE Network proudly presents Another Story from the "Refugee Crisis:" Resettlement in Small Towns and Rural Areas in France, a study conducted by SHARE Integration Partner, the Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI). The study, written by Matthieu Tardis, examines refugee resettlement in France, and in particular the growing trend of receiving refugees in small-size cities and towns. France is not unique in this respect: due to placement policies (also often referred to as dispersal policies) which determine where in the national territory a newly-arrived refugee will reside, many refugees across Europe are now settling in small size cities and rural areas outside of capital cities.
This does not come without challenges - less diversity, a lack of public transportation, longer journeys for specialized services, to name a few. However, small size communities have important advantages: affordable housing is available; newcomers can more easily get to know their new neighbours; and public services (school, healthcare, administration, etc.) tend to be easily accessible. While limited research is available about how refugees (especially resettled refugees) fare in small cities and rural communities in European countries, there is a growing awareness that the issue warrants attention and knowledge-sharing. The European Committee of the Regions, for example, recently launched the Cities and Regions for Integration of Migrants initiative, which seeks to give a stronger voice to small municipalities, mid-size cities and regions in the integration field. Additional research is certainly needed on integration in small communities and rural areas - and this study on France offers an opportunity from which to build further explorations on similar trends in other European countries.
Indeed, while mainstream media often emphasizes the challenges and the increasingly polarised debate on migration, this report seeks to offer a more nuanced picture: welcoming refugees in small communities comes with unique challenges and opportunities. Local communities across France (and beyond) are establishing the grassroots partnerships needed in order to make European resettlement a success.