Accepted by a generous host
Many refugees live year after year with little hope of ever being able to return home. For them the only solution is building a new life and home in the country of asylum and integrating into the local community.
For UNHCR local integration is a dynamic and multifaceted two-way process leading to full and equal membership in the host society. The 1951 Refugee Convention lists a range of socioeconomic and legal rights needed for successful integration. These include, among others, freedom of movement, access to education and labour market, access to public relief, the possibility of acquiring property and – in the long run - the possibility of citizenship.
Most Central European countries considered themselves for a long time as mere transit countries and did little to develop their integration systems and policies. On many occasions, this resulted in a number of people with not enough assistance to learn the language, find a job and a house or obtain professional qualifications. In recent years, some efforts have been made and progress achieved to better facilitate integration of refugees, and a range of programmes and policies have been developed.
UNHCR pays an increased attention to the issue of integration in the region. In order to better advise governments on their integration policies, it has developed two comprehensive documents in April 2009: a Note on Refugee Integration in Central Europe and an Agenda for Refugee Integration in Central Europe. They contain an overview of what integration is in practice and which practical measures integration policies should entail.
In promoting refugee integration, UNHCR in Central Europe advocates for the development of the relevant educational, health, social welfare and employment legislations and policies. It also lobbies for the establishment of services that enable asylum-seekers to achieve self-reliance facilitating their future integration, if recognized as refugees. UNHCR draws the attention to the impact of reception conditions, like the physical conditions in Refugee Centres, on the chances of integration. Besides, the UN Refugee Agency seeks to facilitate family reunification, partly through identifying precedent-setting cases.
An online tool that helps measure real progress towards refugee integration.