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Forced displacement and refugee-host community solidarity

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FOCUS (Forced displacement and refugee-host community solidarity)

Berichtszeitraum: 2019-01-01 bis 2019-12-31

"FOCUS – a research project on refugees, host communities and integration: How to live well together

In 2015 and 2016, the EU experienced an unparalleled influx of refugees and migrants.
Although the number of refugees arriving in the EU is decreasing, the situation poses multiple challenges for social and health services and labour markets in the receiving countries as well as for the lives of the refugees.
FOCUS is an EU funded research project running from January 2019 to December 2021. Its overall aim is to make an impact on both research and practice by understanding and improving the dynamics of integration in Jordan, Croatia, Germany and Sweden.
The overall aim of FOCUS is to make an impact on both research and practice by understanding and improving the dynamics of integration in Jordan, Croatia, Germany and Sweden, with a special emphasis on how psychological and social factors influence successful integration.
FOCUS is structured by three objectives:
- FOCUS maps integration policies and practices and carries out major field studies at four research sites to learn more about the socio-psychological and socio-economic perceptions and realities of integration;
- FOCUS identifies innovative practices for social and labour market integration and pilot-tests them with civil society and governmental organisations, making sure these match the needs of practitioners to support integration;
- FOCUS engages with policy makers – from local to European level – to provide guidance on the informed design of the legal and socio-political framework of integration.
This dialogue is supported by the FOCUS Community.

What will be the results of this?
- A common and innovative research methodology for qualitative and quantitative research on integration;
- An improved understanding of the dynamics of refugee integration with a special emphasis on how psychological and social factors influence integration;
- An online “Living well together Resource”, to promote the use of innovative integration practices by practitioners all over Europe, help to evaluate their usefulness and support their adaptation to local needs;
- Guidance on ""What matters and what works"" in integration, addressing the needs of both practitioners and policy makers;
- A network of communities to foster the exchange of ideas and good practices, strengthened by regular public workshops and roundtables."
FOCUS delivered the Comprehensive mapping of available evidence, policies and solutions on forced migration consisting of five reports designed to gain an in-depth and broad understanding of the state-of-the-art on research, policy and practice on integration of refugees and host community relations. This will form a foundation upon which to build the research field work, the development of the “Living well together Resource” and the dissemination of all of these.
FOCUS delivered its field research methodology, incl. research questions and indicators of integration of refugees and host community members, the methodology for field studies and instruments and measures. Ethical and data protection considerations were also agreed and described. All components were translated, piloted and adjusted in accordance with pilot findings.
Field studies were initiated in the fall of 2019 for Jordan, Croatia and Germany. Field work for the last study site, Sweden, is will start early 2020.
Work toward the second objective (practices) was initiated ahead of time. Deeper investigation, including a small number of study visits, were conducted to shape concept for the “Living well together Resource”; importantly adding the approaches and models needed to frame and foster implementation of solutions addressing in particular mental health and psychosocial support and host community dimensions. Furthermore, project partners engaged in work to ensure the sustainability of both product and processes.
Regarding the policy dimension of FOCUS, a series of early activities were completed to ensure that FOCUS’s research and practice outputs are relevant and useful to policy makers and practitioners throughout the EU. The engagement strategy was produced, incl. a detailed mapping of key stakeholders and the stakeholder engagement strategy. The network of host communities was established and reviewed FOCUS’s proposed approach in terms of relevance and potential impact. FOCUS contributed to the briefing of incoming EC Commissioners through a project brief and began a series of Integration Briefs which are being distributed widely to policy makers and practitioners.
FOCUS has already moved beyond the state of the art by combining socio-economic and sociopsychological approaches to the studies of forced migration in its development of indicators of integration that have the potential to be used in assessment of integration solutions.
Significant progress beyond state-of-the-art will be related to an understanding of the local opportunities and discourses of refugee integration. The data gathered will shed light on how discourses can be changed and integration policies and practice advanced when people meet. Most of the research and knowledge about refugee social and economic integration so far focuses on one side in this dynamic process - the barriers and opportunities for refugees. FOCUS conceptualises and studies integration as a dynamic two-way interaction between the residents of host communities and the incoming refugees that generates societal changes as a result of refugee migration.
FOCUS is identifying existing promising solutions for integration from a wide variety of organisations, including local municipal actors and civil society organisations. Based on this, FOCUS is developing the “Living well together Resource”. The Resource will concentrate on how access to sectors of employment and housing interacts with the social dimensions of integration. New elements include a stronger focus on host community involvement and the inclusion of psychosocial support as an integral part of multisectoral integration solutions. FOCUS conducts pilot tests of the “Living well together Resource” with relevant organisations to ensure effectiveness, relevance and feasibility, leading to enhanced sustainability.
Local host communities are most directly affected by migration. The first reception as well as long-term integration of asylum seekers and refugees are often handled by local communities. It is important to ensure that the needs of different groups – with respect to both refugees and members of the local community – are considered. FOCUS recognises that local authorities and host community actors play a key role in the reception and integration of refugees, and FOCUS involves local policy makers actively throughout the project in the policy engagement as well as the Network of Host Communities. In 2019 20 policy makers participated in a review of practice in policy development and an analysis of knowledge gaps and 15 key informants contributed to a mapping of solutions and practices.