We are extremely excited to launch a new initiative that will see us supporting refugee-led organisations. Together with partners in Malta, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece and Italy we will be looking at the challenges faced by refugee-led groups in becoming active advocates for refugee rights. On the basis of our research and consultations we will then design a training kit intended to strengthen their capacity to advocate at the national and EU levels.
Refugee-led community organisations (RCOs) play a crucial role within society and ample research has highlighted this. RCOs provide a bridge support to newly-arrived refugees. They facilitate swifter integration by offering basic information on procedures and daily life, provide language and cultural orientation training, support refugees wishing to contribute to lost societies and, generally, assist in the normalisation process of making a host community become home.
They also promote engagement with the wider community and see their role as uniting and strengthening the community, promoting the culture, faith and the language of the community, building confidence and creating an active, healthy community.
Many refugees are keen to establish different forms of organisations, with different missions, yet face a number of barriers which often impede the active realisation of strong and effective organisations.
If Europe is to move towards more inclusive, rights-respecting and dignified laws and policies, both internally and externally, refugees must be elevated to the status of equal advocating partners through organised (formal or informal) community organisations and the role of RCOs must be identified as one of the key interlocutors between refugees and host communities.