MPI Europe Webinar
Embarking on the Next Journey: Innovations in Predeparture Orientation Programs for Refugees
Lena Kainz, Associate Policy Analyst, MPI Europe
William Kweku Paintsil, Head of Resettlement and Integration Support Unit, IOM Norway
Nyawal TerJour, Mentor, Netherlands Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers' Predeparture Orientation
Susan Fratzke, Policy Analyst and Program Coordinator, International Program, MPI
As the number of resettlement countries grows across Europe, Latin America, and Asia, the question of how to better prepare resettling refugees, as well as receiving communities, for what lies ahead is more pressing than ever. For resettling refugees, adjusting to their new lives can be particularly difficult. Often, they have lived for long periods in remote regions or refugee camps, with no or little formal education and limited knowledge of how to navigate bureaucracies. Equally, receiving communities may lack the information and support they need to welcome new neighbors. While predeparture orientation alone can neither guarantee a smooth transition nor expedite integration, it holds the potential to increase refugees’ confidence in their decision to resettle and to improve their ability to start life anew in an unfamiliar place. If done effectively, orientation can make a difference for refugees’ well-being and be an investment in receiving-community social cohesion.
While the potential benefits of such preparation are clear, it is far less obvious how exactly to make the most out of the limited time at hand before refugees depart. It can be challenging to strike a delicate balance between conveying key messages and skills for the next steps ahead while meeting refugees’ own information needs. What do resettling refugees need to learn before departure, and what information can wait until after arrival? Who is best placed to deliver predeparture orientation, and how can information be shared in the most accessible and credible way? And how can receiving communities best be supported in welcoming newcomers? To answer these questions, this Migration Policy Institute Europe webinar examines concrete and innovative practices of how to better design and implement predeparture orientation programs from the perspective of a diverse range of actors.
This webinar draws from the report, Preparing for the Unknown: Designing Effective Predeparture Orientation for Resettling Refugees. The report was produced in the framework of the European Union Action on Facilitating Resettlement and Refugee Admission through New Knowledge (EU-FRANK) project and lays out guiding principles for effective orientation programs for Member States as they decide or rethink what support they offer to refugees before arrival.