Reception of resettled refugees

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Policies and practices in the health-related reception of quota refugees in Denmark, Danish Medical Journal 59/1


INTRODUCTION: Quota refugees coming to Denmark are mandated refugee status offshore and approximately 500 quota refugees are resettled annually. Upon arrival to Denmark, quota refugees are received directly in the municipalities and municipal caseworkers therefore have the practical responsibility for their health-related reception. The aim of this study was to investigate the health-related reception of quota refugees in Denmark by focusing on the presence of municipal policies and practices, and to test for possible associations with these policies and practices.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The study was based on a survey of all Danish municipalities that had received quota refugees after 1 January 2007. A questionnaire was designed on the background of preliminary research. A total 49 of the 58 includable respondents returned the questionnaire, which yielded a response rate of 84%.

RESULTS: We found that 49% of the municipalities had no policies for health-related reception of quota refugees and 69% had no specific policies regarding general practitioners’general health assessment of quota refugees upon their arrival. Disparities between the municipalities were also found regarding their health-related practices. The presence of health-related policies and certain health-related practices were found to be associated with the number of quota refugees received and the size of municipality.

CONCLUSION: Due to the lack of policies and the large responsibility of case workers who are not health professionals, there is a risk that the health needs of this particularly vulnerable group may not be met satisfactorily.

Rain is beautiful

Omar, a Somali refugee, fled the war in Libya last year to live in a camp on the country's border with Tunisia. This episode of his story, Rain is Beautiful, begins with emotional farewells at the camp as Omar leaves his friends behind to begin a new life in Sandviken in northern Sweden. He is met at Stockholm airport by the Swedish migration board, visits a doctor, gets his 'right to remain' signed and learns what margarine is.

For the original video, visit Amnesty International's webpage.

Don't give up - you have to fight!

A survey of resettled children and young people's experiences and need of information about their new life in Sweden

Landa is a county-wide project for the development of introduction and information activities for newly arrived refugees resettled in Gävleborg. These activities are largely aimed towards adults. The group of children and young people aged 7-18 years has not been prioritised in the introduction and establishment activities.

To improve the activities and developed an adapted introduction material for this group required increased knowledge on children/young people's experiences of reception and their need of introduction activities. Interviews have been conducted with 51 resettled children/young people, both individually and in focus groups. Here are some examples of questions posed and discussed:
• What did you know about Sweden before you came here?
• What information did you receive when you came here?
• Who told you this?
• What is important to tell someone who is moving from your home country to Sweden?
• How shall we tell this?

Approximately 60 per cent of the children/young people interviewed in the project have participated in one of the Swedish Migration Board's Sweden Programmes (Sverigeprogram), and approximately 40 per cent had, in the main, not received any information at all about Sweden prior to departure. All had received help and introduction on arrival. It is clear that the Sweden Programme makes a difference and, above all, the Sweden Programmes that have had local information and personnel at the information session.

School, the language, climate and that you have to fight and work hard were issues that almost all those interviewed in the project thought were the most important to provide information about to the children/young people who come here. The younger children thought that the most important things to be informed about were school, out-of-school activities and the climate. The older ones felt that problems arising in the family after arrival, loneliness and the difficulty of gaining a good education were the most important. These are some of the things they said:
“You have to fight – Don't give up!”
“It is very important to learn the language as fast as possible”
“Tell me about the climate and seasons – that they go round”
“Tell me a lot about schools – that without an education, it is very difficult to get a job in Sweden”

In the interviews, it emerged that it is important to talk about things that create security. To produce pictures and films for children/young people and to let young people who “have made the journey” be involved in the introduction work were some pieces of advice the project received. The survey shows that the children/young people are in need of quick integration into Swedish society. A good start and introduction can be crucial for newly arrived children/young people moving to a new country. Spending time and resources on a good start is a sound investment both for society and for the individual.

At the same time as Sweden will need to receive significantly more refugees in the future, the municipalities, through the new establishment reform, have reduced resources for refugee reception. Here, there is a lot to gain from coordination and quality assurance in a collaboration between the county's municipalities. There is a need for a mechanism to support and supervise personnel and provide them with relevant and updated information materials. Appoint a regional coordinator for the introduction work/refugee reception.

Reception phase

The reception phase for resettled refugees is the period following their arrival in their country of resettlement. The length of the reception phase is not defined - it often refers to the first few weeks after arrival, but can be used to refer to periods of up to 6 months following arrival.

Reception and integration of resettled refugees in Gävleborg - Landa project brochure

Resettled refugees who come to Sweden often have little knowledge of their new home, which puts great demands on the municipal reception.

Through Project Landa, we were given an opportunity to develop this reception. The County Administrative Board of Gävleborg has been working in this countywide project for nearly two years. The project has been financed with funds from the European Refugee Fund. The purpose of the project was to develop the reception and informational efforts for the newly arrived resettled refugees that were to settle in the county.


Landa project - pre-arrival information and reception of resettled refugees - video

Sweden is the European country receiving the highest number of resettled refugees annually, with an annual resettlement quota of 1,900 persons.  Resettled refugees who come to Sweden often have little knowledge of their new home, which puts great demands on the municipalities receiving the them.

Through Project Landa, the County Administrative Board of Gävleborg had the opportunity to develop pre-arrival information and reception for resettled refugees.  Running for two years and financed by the European Refugee Fund, the project ensured that those involved in receiving resettled refugees in Swedish municipalities were involved in all phases of the resettlement process for refugees resettled to Sweden.  The following film will explain more about the Landa Project and how reception and integration of resettled refugees in Gävleborg is organised.