What is the role of cultural heritage, education, and psychosocial well-being in dynamic integration? Dr. Ainhoa Flecha and migration expert Adnan Abdul Ghani discuss different aspects of dynamic integration and how research and science can contribute to better outcomes for both refugees and the hosting communities.
Ainhoa Flecha, Associated Professor, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Adnan Abdul Ghani, Project Manager, Save the Children Sweden
Moderator: Emilia Aiello, Ph.D Fellow, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
H2020 SO-CLOSE and REFUGE-ED are two Horizon 2020 program projects that work towards creating a better integration for refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers in Europe. H2020 SO-CLOSE aims to contribute to social cohesion and fight refugee marginalization or exclusion, while REFUGE-ED promotes academic success, well-being, and a sense of belonging for refugee and migrant children through the integration of successful educational actions and mental health and psychosocial support approaches.
During a webinar hosted by Dr. Emelia Aiello from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Dr. Ainhoa Flecha from the SO-CLOSE project and Adnan Abdul Ghani from the REFUGE-ED project shared insights into their work and the importance of dynamic integration for refugees in Europe.
Dr. Flecha explained that the SO-CLOSE project aims to promote social cohesion through the sharing of cultural heritage and encourage encounters between local communities and refugees. Through a process of co-creation, the project develops digital tools to preserve and share the memory of forced displacement and promote connections of experiences between refugees from past events, historical events, and press historical events.
On the other hand, Abdul Ghani explained that the REFUGE-ED project aims to introduce the education and mental health, and psychosocial support aspects in humanitarian settings to improve the academic achievement and dynamic integration of migrant, refugee, and asylum seeker children. This aim must be made in cooperation with the children, families, communities, services and organizations, local services providers, schoolteachers, and volunteers in formal and non-formal education.
To ensure dynamic integration, Abdul Ghani shared the four different elements of the integration process: participation part and co-creation approach, social cohesion, multi-stakeholders partnerships, and mental health and psychological support as an awareness tool.
During the co-creation process, the target groups need to be defined, including refugees, teachers, politicians, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In addition, the needs of the groups must be analyzed from the ground, not from a professional point of view, and the target groups should be involved in the process from the early stages, from planning to evaluation.
“Co-creation is not just a toolset, but an attitude from the creator.” Adnan Abdul Ghani. ” I am not the expert, the expert is the people who are the most close to the issues, they are the experts on the challenges, and the solutions” he added.
Refugees need to be seen as a value, as they come with culture and experiences, and they are survivors. To create this real partnership, it is necessary to provide information, training, and resources for refugees, and make refugees part of the implementation.
Finally, when working with refugees, ethical aspects need to be analyzed. Refugees have a situation of vulnerability but are consulting adults with the ability to consent and protect themselves. It is important not to fall into paternalism, as vulnerability is not the only characteristic of the groups.
In conclusion, the SO-CLOSE and REFUGE-ED projects aim to promote social cohesion and provide academic success, well-being, and a sense of belonging for refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers in Europe. Through co-creation and dynamic integration, the projects hope to build empathy and mutual knowledge among all of us and create a shared history that includes the diverse experiences and backgrounds of refugees.