Integration of resettled refugees

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Amir's Volunteering - A guide on involving young asylum seekers and refugees as volunteers. Experiences, ideas and recommendations

The background for this guide is a cooperation project between the Danish Red Cross and the British Red Cross, supported by the EU. The project, which ran from 2011 to 2013, has looked at young asylum seekers’ and refugees’ participation in volunteering and has studied why it does not appear to be widespread among this group, what the benefits of such participation might be for both the young people and the volunteer organisations.

Amir's volunteering - a study on volunteering as a pathway to social inclusion for young asylum seekers and refugees

Could more be done to strengthen young asylum seekers’ and refugees’ inclusion into European society?
Could participation in voluntary service provide a tool to achieve this, and what would be required to make this a reality, both practically and structurally?
These questions form the core of the project entitled Volunteering for Social Inclusion (VSI) - a social experimental, comparative study of voluntary service as a possible way towards young asylum seekers’ and refugees’ social inclusion, financed by the EU and implemented in a bilateral cooperation between the Danish Red Cross and the British Red Cross during the period from September 2011 - September 2013.

This report presents the results of the VSI study of the experiences of young asylum seekers and refugees as volunteers in a Danish and Scottish context. To a large extent, the topic is seen from the young people's own perspective, based on their own considerations, thoughts and experiences. The overall opportunities and barriers faced by young asylum seekers and refugees during social inclusion though voluntary service, identified in the report, will relate to a broader European context. The report will conclude with a number of recommendations for both EU institutions and individual EU Member States.

A New Beginning: Refugee Integration in Europe

For the majority of refugees in Europe integration is the most relevant durable solution and European Union (EU) Member States have placed integration high on the policy and political agenda particularly since the mid-1990s. In many of those countries significant investment has been made in programmes and associated support to facilitate immigrant integration and to identify effective practice. In addition, an increasing awareness has developed of the importance of being able to evaluate immigrant integration using measurable indicators to help assess the effectiveness of policy and programming and form understandings of the factors that influence migrant integration trajectories.

In the specific case of refugees, integration is based on the rights flowing from the Qualification Directive (2011). There is however no specific EU integration policy instrument. While national approaches vary significantly within the EU, most programmes are mainstreamed into existing  integration efforts. The specific situation of refugees and the barriers or facilitators to their integration thereby risk being overlooked and the expert support needed to assist this group in becoming economically productive, self-reliant and to ensure dignity may be diminished. As such, this study has prioritized their specific situation, asking what refugee integration looks like.

The aim of this study was to review trends in the development of policy areas relevant to integration, to highlight already-used measurable integration indicators and the methods of evaluating integration, and to highlight factors that influence integration outcomes for refugees. Four project countries took part in the research: France, Sweden, Ireland and Austria. In addition, an overview was done of three other countries which have made significant moves toward refugee integration policy and programming: Canada, United Kingdom and Germany.

Welcome to Europe! A comprehensive guide to resettlement


This publication is an outcome of the joint IOM, UNHCR and ICMC project ‘Linking In EU resettlement – Linking the resettlement phases and connecting (local) resettlement practitioners’, co-funded by the European Commission via the European Refugee Fund.

This new edition of Welcome to Europe covers all aspects of global resettlement needs, processes, policy and partnerships, focusing on the ongoing growth and development of resettlement in Europe, as follows:

Chapter 1 – Resettlement and international protection

Chapter 2 – Global resettlement

Chapter 3 – Refugee situations in focus

Chapter 4 – The resettlement process: from identification to departure

Chapter 5 – Resettlement in Europe – rising slowly but surely

Chapter 7 – European resettlement programmes

Chapter 8 – Building a new life in the community: approaches to reception and integration in Europe

‘Welcome to Europe!’ underscores the life-saving role of resettlement, and contributes to the promotion of resettlement in Europe as one component of a comprehensive and durable approach to protecting refugees. To submit your contributions and reflections on the publication, please contact Sophie Ngo-Diep at or start a discussion in the Community of Practice.

A “First Buddy in the United States” Awaits Refugee Children Arriving at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport

PHOTO CAPTION - Terry Bliznik (far left) spends time and money to show kindness to refugee children staying at The Best Western O'Hare Hotel, IOM’s partner hotel in Chicago, Illinois, which is used to overnight refugees in transit to final destinations in other cities in the United States.

A “First Buddy in the United States” Awaits Refugee Children Arriving at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport

By: Niurka Piñeiro, IOM Senior Press Officer and Spokesperson for the Americas

The Best Western Hotel at O’Hare airport, just outside Chicago, has been hosting newly-arrived refugees from all corners of the globe for more than 20 years.

Terry Bliznick, the Head of Housekeeping, has worked at the hotel for 28 years, so she has seen thousands of men, women and children pass through the premises. 

“They are kind of nervous to come to the United States, leave their country and start a new life.  They are quiet.  I make sure the rooms are ready when they arrive.  I make sure they are settled in.  I make sure they have their breakfast and lunch ready.  I am here to help them,” recounts Ms. Bliznick.

But she has gone way above and beyond the scope of her work by taking on the mission of providing a toy to each refugee child; for most it is their first toy.

“I noticed that the children didn’t have anything.  We as Americans don’t realize that we throw many things away.  And so I go to places and collect toys, these are very good toys, nothing wrong with them.  The kids love them!  I go see friends who give me toys or donations; I visit the Salvation Army, flea markets, garage sales, etc.” explains Ms. Bliznick.

Many times Ms. Bliznick uses her own money to purchase the toys.

Maria Rowland, Director of Sales, Best Western at O’Hare chimes in: “This woman has a big heart.  These children are her children.   She always tries to do something special for the children, especially if they’re crying.”

Ms. Bliznick is very active in The Promise Program, created by the hotel's management company, Hostmark Hospitality Group, to protect the environment by encouraging and challenging each member of the organization to think and act “green”, pursuing earth-friendly solutions and engaging in meaningful community-building and outreach efforts.

A few months ago, Terry suggested that the Promise Program could collect and give toys to refugee children staying at the hotel.  She started by purchasing toys with funds she donated and collected from other Best Western employees, but when she saw the children’s delight, she decided to continue the initiative indefinitely.

“I get joy out of it, so I continued it.  This makes me feel good.  I like to do that for the children.  I can donate money to any organization, but it’s not the same thing as me giving it to them,” adds Ms. Bliznick

Chicago is one of five Ports of Entry used by IOM* for newly-arrived refugees resettling in the United States; others are Los Angeles, Miami New York and Newark. At each Port of Entry, IOM contracts a hotel to provide overnight accommodation to refugees who cannot make their connecting flights to their final destination. 

The Best Western O’Hare is the hotel used by IOM for refugees arriving in Chicago.

Ms. Rowland explains the process: “We get notice from IOM once a week as to the number of people arriving.  Normally they stay only one night.  We make sure we have rooms available for them.  We use our shuttle to pick them up at the airport and the next day we take them back to catch their flights.  We set up breakfast for them in a private meeting room so they can feel comfortable and not be nervous about seeing so many other people.  We always try to provide breads, juices, milk, eggs, and other things that they will enjoy eating.  We have someone always looking after them at breakfast to make sure they have everything they need.  IOM always lets us knows their food requirements, so we order special dinners for them; usually it includes rice, vegetables and chicken.”

Thousands of newly-arrived refugees spend their first night in their new country at the Best Western O’Hare.  And most families have children.

“You have to see their faces when they get the toys; they grab them and hug them.  They become children.  Children should be children.  If they don’t have toys, they just stand there like statues.  They’ve never had toys.  I tell them this is your first buddy in the United States.  Some of them are shy, so I ask an IOM staff member to give the child his/her toy; immediately the other children come running to get their toys.  I get satisfaction from seeing them,” adds Ms. Bliznick.”

“Today we are expecting 16 children.  And tomorrow morning after breakfast Terry will give them their toys,” says Ms. Rowland.

Hostmark has started collecting toys amongst the staff to send to Terry to distribute to the children. 

Since the program began in late February, more than 300 toys have been provided by this remarkable woman to refugee children.

*For more than 60 years, moving refugees to begin new lives with dignity and respect in a safe and orderly fashion has been and continues to be a fundamental purpose and priority of the International Organization for Migration (IOM)

IOM was founded in 1951 to assist in the resettlement of Europeans displaced in the aftermath of World War II.  In the last decade alone, IOM has organized resettlement movements of 892,243 refugees from 186 locations around the world.

IOM works closely with governments, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), non-government organizations and other partners.  IOM resettlement services include: Case processing, Health Assessments, Pre-Departure Orientation, and Transport..

For more information on IOM resettlement assistance please visit:

The World at Our Doorstep

The Onondaga Citizens League published its first study report in 1979, the same year that the first refugees from Vietnam were resettled in Syracuse. It is somehow fitting then, that as OCL celebrates the 35th anniversary of its founding, we release our latest report, The World at Our Doorstep, which explores – and celebrates – our community’s continuing commitment to welcoming and resettling refugees from all over the world.

This year’s study on refugee resettlement grew out of an awareness that while Syracuse has a long history of welcoming new populations, the increasing numbers of refugees resettled here in recent years have brought concerns about the community’s ability to absorb these new residents and help them adjust. Many recent refugees come from areas of the world where they suffered years of civil strife, warfare and deprivation. They arrive with fewer resources and higher needs than past refugees. The Citizens League study sought to determine what might be done to strengthen the existing human services system that helps refugees thrive and become part of our community.

The Integration of Resettled Refugees

Essentials for Establishing a Resettlement programme and Fundamentals for Sustainable Resettlement Programmes:

Resettlement gives refugees -whose lives have been shattered and futures placed on hold -renewed hope, and the opportunity to rebuild their lives. UNHCR encourages States to establish formal resettlement programmes to increase the number of refugees who can benefit from this durable solution. However, resettling refugees requires advance preparation, planning, and long-term commitment.

This guide provides an overview of the essential elements a State must put in place in order to establish a resettlement programme, and the fundamentals that should be developed over the longer term to ensure that their resettlement. programme is sustainable.

Career Paths in the Health Sector in Minnesota

The NGO ‘International Institute of Minnesota (IIM)’ developed and implemented a nationally recognised programme offering a career path for refugees and other third country nationals interested in employment in the medical field. The three-step programme includes:

Direct placement and support of resettled refugees in municipalities

The central question of this study is how direct placement and support of resettled refugees in municipalities is actually working out, both practically and financially, how the implementation of this process is assessed by the parties involved and whether there are any specific problems.

The summary of the objectives and conclusions of the evaluation is available in English on pages 5-8 of the document.