UN agency issues recommendations on integration of refugees in Europe

11 May 2007

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has issued a series of recommendations to help integrate refugees in Europe with the aim of enabling them to become productive members of society whether they stay or return home.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has issued a series of recommendations to help integrate refugees in Europe with the aim of enabling them to become productive members of society whether they stay or return home.

The proposals came following assessments in several countries which revealed a number of obstacles, including insufficient knowledge of local languages and differing cultures, lack of understanding within host societies of the specific situation of refugees, and discrimination and unreceptive attitudes towards foreigners, as well as the psychological impact of protracted inactivity during asylum procedures, agency spokesman William Spindler told reporters in Geneva today.

In response, he said, reception policies on asylum seekers “should be designed to minimize isolation and separation from host communities, as well as to provide for effective language and vocational skills development and assistance to pursue employment.”

The overall aim is to empower asylum seekers and refugees to become active members of society, as this will boost their chances of successful integration in the host country or reintegration in their own country upon return.

“Detention, even if for a short period of time, can have lasting effects on individuals and on their ability to adjust to and integrate in the host society, particularly in the case of children and traumatized persons,” Mr. Spindler said.

The recommendations were released in conjunction with an informal meeting of European Union (EU) ministers responsible for integration organized by the German EU Presidency in Potsdam this week.

 

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