The increase in number of refugees in the past few years, and in most cases the prolonged displacements and settlements in host communities has highlighted the importance of ‘integration’.
Integration is the process by which refugees are accepted in a society as an individual, and as groups.
The process is mainly based on socioeconomic and legal rights aspects including access to education, employment, protection, freedom of movement, as well as in some cases citizenship. It also entails helping these families learn local language and improving their professional skills to be able to restart livelihoods without feeling dependent on others to fulfill their needs, however with the consideration in mind that they don’t have to forgo their own cultural identity while trying to integrate.
Refugees within a new country often experience difficult adjustment problems such as finding accommodation, learning how to shop, and understanding the education and employment systems. These challenges become more difficult to cope with since these families often leave their countries with limited resources, sudden dislocation, and especially carry the emotional weight of personal loss, grief and trauma.
This is why it is important for the host government, UN agencies, NGOs, as well as societies to make coordinated efforts. One path toward integrating refugees is by understanding refugees not only as a humanitarian challenge but also a development opportunity, Countries that realize that can create economic opportunities that are mutually beneficial. Many refugees have arrived in Europe with a great diversity of skills, experience and specializations that could make tangible contributions to the European Union workforce. Similar is the case in Jordan’s Zaatari camp where refugees communities with the assistance from humanitarian community have been able to set up their own market place, education centers, and skill learning centers for women. While life remains difficult for them, these solutions have given them a way to stay actively involved in maintaining their livelihoods and becoming self-dependent.
UNHCR provides a wide range of resources to governments, humanitarian community, as well as individuals on the roles they can play to foster integration of refugees in their societies – a lot of these resources are available on UNHCR’s website and are very interesting and knowledgeable to read wether we plan to pursue career in refugee crisis management and response, or just because we want to make individual contributions to support the refugees in our own societies.