On 20 June – The World Refugee Day – EFIL has attended a conference called “Time to be welcome: youth work and integration of young refugees on the International Refugee Day”. This event is a part of the collaborative partnership ‘Time to be welcome’ that EFIL is running together with 10 other organisations in Europe (get to know more about it here: http://ectp.eu/efillife/?p=3197&editions=edition-127 ).

Organised by the European Youth Forum (EYF), the World organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) and supported by the European Union – Council of Europe Youth Partnership, the conference consisted of panel debates in the first part and thematic reception in the second part.

The panelists had various backgrounds: from the MEP Brando Benifei and Tanya Basarab representing the Council of Europe – EU Youth Partnership, to Emin Mamadli from Voices of Young Refugees in Europe and Gabriel Almeida from European Council on Refugees and Exiles, and more.

The variety of speakers allowed us to hear about different aspects of efforts made regarding youth work and integration of refugees. Some of the opinions expressed were that strong support from the European institutions is needed; that the support for refugees upon their arrival is crucial; that refugees should be part of the decision-making process when it comes to strategic decisions regarding their inclusion, access to education and work market, instead of being a passive actor who is given no voice.

After the panel debates, the thematic reception took place and participants got a chance to explore different topics deeper. The themes offered were Non-formal education, Advocacy for Refugee rights, Empowerment and skills development and raising awareness about refugees.

We also had an opportunity to hear from a young man from Syria – Abdellbaset Alheeshan – who represented the organisation Tandem.  Abdellbaset talked about his personal experience upon coming to Belgium. He stressed the importance of providing (volunteering) work and learning experiences to young refugees in order for them to get familiar with the work environment in Europe and get integrated in the society.

Tandem is not new to EFIL – last year, EFIL cooperated with Tandem and a young Syrian Obada Ota Bashi. Obada volunteered in the office for two weeks and participated in a study session. You can read more about it here: http://ectp.eu/efillife/?p=2389&editions=edition-124.