Report from SHARE Stakeholder Conference in Paris, June 24, 2015

Click here to download the conference agenda (in French) and a copy of the introductory presentation given by Forum Réfugies & France Terre d'Asile (in French).

On June 24 2015, the French ERN national network focal points and SHARE partners France Terre d’Asile and Forum Réfugiés-Cosi presented their co-written report on the French resettlement programme and on the specific schemes for Syrians and Iraqis. The meeting was hosted in the city hall of the 10th arrondissement in Paris, and gathered officials from governmental organisations such as the Interior Ministry, the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (Ofpra) or the French Office for Immigration and Integration (Ofii), representatives of the organisations involved in the national reception programme including Adoma (Isère)CoalliaEntraide Pierre Valdo and Isard Cos, as well as the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR.

Background and purpose of the meeting

This meeting was the last in a series of meetings organised in the framework of the SHARE project on resettlement in France. It allowed for France Terre d’Asile and Forum Réfugiés-Cosi to present their co-written report on the French resettlement programme in 2013 and 2014, which also includes data from the specific resettlement schemes for Iraqis and Syrians. The report is based on the experiences of the actors involved in the national reception programme and is meant as a first evaluation of the resettlement programme that started in 2010, when France signed an agreement with UNHCR and committed to welcome 100 resettled refugees per year. The report and the meeting provided an opportunity for different resettlement actors in France to underline the achievements of the programme but also to identify the challenges and discuss ways to improve the French annual resettlement programme based on lessons learned from the recent specific operation granting humanitarian admission to a number of Syrian refugees.

Topics and interventions

After a brief presentation of the report by France terre d’asile and Forum réfugiés-Cosi, SHARE Resettlement Ambassador Zukhra, the daughter of a resettled refugee from Uzbekistan, gave an account of her experience of the French resettlement programme and her life as a resettled refugee in France. She underlined the importance of language classes in her integration and the relief her family experienced when they finally accessed a long-term housing solution. Zukhra’s testimony showcased some of the major difficulties resettled refugees can encounter when they arrive and during their integration process in France such as the lack of information before departure or needs to improve the offer of French courses for refugees.

The report, published by ICMC, France terre d’asile and Forum réfugiés-Cosi, aims to give a full picture of the French resettlement programme in 2013 and 2014, both in terms of numbers and experiences. It includes testimonies from Zukhra, and another resettled refugee in Lyon. It was welcomed by all participants, as a first concrete step towards identifying paths of improvement, and using the lessons learned from the ad hoc experience of the Syrian resettlement scheme. Click here  to download the full report (in French).

The operators involved in the national reception programme suggested the Interior Ministry use the example of the communication from the special Prefect for resettled Iraqis and Syrians – which clarified the legal status and rights of resettled refugees and was addressed to civil servants in various administrations, such as the employment or social benefits agencies – and publish a similar directive, which would apply to all resettled refugees. Other ways of improvement were explored, including the organisation of selection missions by Ofpra for the resettlement of refugees in group settings or the improvement of the language courses offer managed by the Offi.

While many of the positive and challenging aspects of the French resettlement programme had already been pointed out in previous meetings, the presentation of this report confirmed the establishment of a regular and fruitful dialogue between the various institutional and non-governmental resettlement actors in France. It paved the way for future meetings to be organised and concrete actions to be taken in order to improve the reception of resettled refugees in France.