Why another Working Conference?
A well-known and often criticised issue in policy-making is that the targeted groups do not have sufficient opportunities to influence the design, formulation and implementation of policies affecting their daily lives. This criticism has often been applied to policies regarding immigration and the integration of newcomers to European societies.
This is why the Partnership on Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees has built its latest Working Conference, held on 17 May in Amsterdam, around a group of people most affected by such policies: (former) migrants and refugees themselves (find the conference programme HERE).
The event built on the insights gained via expert consultations during the last two Working Conferences (find reports HERE and HERE). It asked people with migration and refugee experiences to share their stories. The problems encountered by the participants, as well as possible solutions, formed the heart of the thematic workshops.
Another exceptional feature of this Working Conference is that the outcomes of the workshops on the topics reception, housing, education and work are available as illustrations. Ink Strategy has done a great job translating the main discussion elements into small pieces of art - the outcomes can be found HERE and HERE. The photos show participants pitching their solutions by way of using the graphics.
/futurium/en/file/participants-presenting-their-solutions-topic-housing-migrants-and-refugeesParticipants presenting their solutions on the topic of housing for migrants and refugees
What has been discussed?
The topics brought up by (former) refugees and migrants were similar to those identified in the earlier Partnership work. Among other things, the participants highlighted the central role of language and of peer-to-peer exchange, the need for stronger transparency in bureaucratic procedures concerning refugees’ rights and obligations, the importance of attitude change in welcoming societies, and the need for adequate competences and resources on the local level of government.
Here is what participants said about the conference:
Kalsum Abdurahman from Ethiopia, living in the United Kingdom for almost six years now, said: "Refugees and migrants often feel like they don't have a good connection with the government. The problem of refugees is that they don't understand what the policy is, what the government is doing ... I believe these events can bring policy-makers and migrants closer to each other."
Thomas Jézéquel, representing EUROCITIES in the Partnership as a policy advisor on migration and integration, reflected on the conference: "It is really reassuring for us to see that the priorities and discussions we had [in the Partnership] were actually reflected by the concerns of refugees ... I think it is a reality check for policy-makers ... It is a question of avoiding to focus on areas that are not of much interest to actual refugees or not to forget other priorities. For example, we have a tendency as policy-makers to focus on labour market integration at all costs, forgetting really important issues like health and trauma and family reunification - the more basic things that, if not addressed, will not allow for any meaningful integration."
With 130 participants covering a wide range of both European countries and countries of origin of many refugees and migrants in Europe, the conference pooled an enormous and valuable amount of experiences and knowledge. The Migrant Advisory Board (find a recent information one-pager HERE) to be installed to give refugees and migrants a more institutionalised say in policy-making was presented at the end of the conference. In the same vein, the Open Society Foundations presented the Open Society Fellowship, established to provide training and professional development opportunities to refugees and recent migrants for a period of twelve months, including membership in the Advisory Board. The application opens in June 2017 and closes in July 2017. Find more information HERE.
The Partnership discussed during an internal meeting the day after the Working Conference how to translate the input into tangible actions. This work will keep the Partnership busy the upcoming weeks. Then, the Draft Action Plan will be open for public consultation. Find all further information on the Public Feedback HERE.
UPDATE 25 July 2017: The conference report is available and can be downloaded from the Library section.