By Nora Peter, IFRC

Three European Red Cross societies have launched a joint initiative that focuses on the social integration of refugees and asylum-seekers. The two-year project “Action of Red Cross on Integration of Relocated and Resettled Persons” runs under the acronym ARCI and is implemented by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in partnership with the German, Bulgarian and Croatian Red Cross.

ARCI aims to provide personalized and accessible information for refugees and asylum seekers who have arrived in these countries through EU relocation and resettlement programmes but brings benefits for the integration of larger groups of asylum-seekers and refugees in these countries. The project allows refugees and asylum-seekers to receive information in their native language from the moment they arrive in a host country. It also enables them to participate in skills and language training, and to receive some support in finding a job or a school for themselves or their family members.

Refugees in a transit camp of the Harburg German Red Cross branch: language course.

To better understand the needs of the people arriving in a new country, a series of interviews have been conducted with refugees and asylum-seekers themselves and the National Societies are regularly coordinating their support with key authorities and organizations active in the field of integration. The programme also aims to foster acceptance in the host communities and sensitize local authorities through a series of trainings and sessions.

“Our experience has shown that integration is most successful when both host and refugee community are working together. Local Red Cross volunteers who engage in activities like drawing or yoga with refugees on a daily basis can build the initial bridge between the two groups. We couldn’t do all this without their dedication,” says Yasemin Bekyol, EU Relocation Policy Officer at the German Red Cross.

Both EU Relocation and Resettlement scheme have allowed the transfer of persons in need of international protection to access long-term solution of integration and protection in EU countries. As of June 2018, over 34,000 people have been relocated within the EU and more than 25,980 resettled since 2015. Although the EU Relocation scheme has officially ended, Germany, Croatia, and Bulgaria have received altogether 10,979 asylum-seekers from Greece and Italy who have needed integration support from the moment they have arrived at their countries. Through the linkages of pre-departure and post-arrival needs assessment, the project is also looking at identifying good practices that can benefit further humanitarian admission programmes.

The ARCI project is funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. 

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