|Wall graffiti in Rome saying: We are all one. Photo Credit: Karina Castro|
We are all One: Identity & Integration of Refugees
By Karina V. Castro, MIMS
Strang and Alastair have a theory in which the components of integration in which rights and citizenship are a foundation of integration. Language and cultural knowledge are the facilitators and social capital is accessible by establishing connections. The factors and access to integration are employment, housing, education and health care (Strang&Ager, 2010). Although these factors are important to integration of refugees, it is a complex ideal which has deeper roots. Rights and citizenship are a fundamental part of integrating refugees but so is identity and acceptance by the host society. Although citizenship rights include the notions of nationhood and perhaps to some belonging, it is not always sufficient but it is a key element to understanding integration depending on the circumstance (Strang&Ager, 2010).
Awarding citizenship on the basis of successful integration may not be enough. It is also to be defined what is successful integration and if does ever truly happen. EU policies have not been the most welcoming to refugees nonetheless to manage the Mediterranean Refugee Crisis. Can policies really be geared to say welcome? The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) has argued that integration is multi-dimensional, and includes the conditions to participate in society, actual participation in society and a perception of acceptance in the host society. Although citizenship and fully participating in a society is part of integration it also is holding onto one’s identity and roots and being able to in an essence live in two countries at once. It is not always easy to integrate into a society which may or may not be welcoming, which makes each refugees’ story unique and individual.