A new report by UNHCR examines refugee integration in Europe. France, Sweden, Ireland and Austria have participated in the study and an overview is also given of the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada, since they have been considered to have made significant progress in refugee integration policies and programmes.

UNHCR’s study focuses on employment, education (including language), social integration and inclusion, active citizenship, housing and health. The research is based on consultations with stakeholders and interviews with refugees on their views regarding integration.

Employment was the key concern for refugee respondents. According to the report, refugees face specific challenges and barriers in entering the labour market in addition to challenges other migrants commonly face. These obstacles include loss of identity documentation and qualification certificates, non-acceptance of qualifications or educational attainment, trauma and uncertainty, anxiety over family separation, the long period of inactivity in the asylum system, and limited social networks.

The study also emphasises that the acquisition of the host country’s language is vital for all facets of integration. UNHCR concluded that the level of language courses in the countries studied was insufficient and thus there were great challenges in terms of re-training, seeking a job or housing, and becoming self-reliant. 

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This article originally appeared in ECRE Weekly Bulletin 27 September 2013.

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