Academic journal article Refuge

"I Have a Voice-Hear Me!" Findings of an Australian Study Examining the Resettlement and Integration Experience of Refugees and Migrants from the Horn of Africa in Australia

Academic journal article Refuge

"I Have a Voice-Hear Me!" Findings of an Australian Study Examining the Resettlement and Integration Experience of Refugees and Migrants from the Horn of Africa in Australia

Article excerpt

Abstract

Using the lens of "integration criteria" developed by Ager and Strang, this article presents the findings of a project documenting the resettlement and integration experiences of refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa (HoA) in Australia. While refugees have enormous potential to integrate successfully, and many do, there are obstacles which persist. These include: trauma; separation of family members; lack of adequate on-arrival information and support; difficulties with language acquisition; lack of access to appropriate and affordable housing; lack of education support; discrimination in the work force; conflict within families; racista; and violence against women.

Abstract

A travers le prisme des << criteres d'integration >> mis au point par Ager et Strang, cet article presente les resultats d'un projet documentant les experiences de reinstallation et d'integration, en Australie, de refugies et de migrants de la Come de l'Afrique. Bien que les refugies ont un enorme potentiel a s'integrer avec succes, et que nombre d'entre eux y parviennent, des obstacles persistent neanmoins. Parmi ceux-ci figurent les suivants: traumatismes; separation ales membres de la famille; manque d'information et de soutien adequats a l'arrivee; difficultes d'apprentissage du langage; manque d'acces a un logement convenable et abordable; manque de soutien a l'education; discrimination sur le matche du travail; conflits au sein des familles; racisme; violence contre les femmes.

Introduction

It is estimated that over one million people from the Horn of Africa (HoA) are living in refugee situations in East Africa. (1) Each country in the region, with the exclusion of Djibouti, has produced as well as hosted refugees. The majority of these live in "protracted refugee situations," defined as those "in which refugees find themselves in a longstanding and intractable state of limbo. Their lives may not be at risk, but their basic rights and essential economic, social, and psychological needs remain unfulfilled after years of exile." (2) Refugee camps are often violent; food, education, and medical services are at a minimum. Many children and young people are born in these refugee camps and have known no other life. People suffer from serious challenges to their cultural identity and their ability to maintain family and community life. (3)

Each year Australia resettles approximately six thousand mandated refugees and six thousand special humanitarian entrants from refugee-like situations as part of its program of migration. Of the refugee component, 10.5 per cent of places are held for women at risk, a special visa category for women and their children who have experienced extreme risk and who are vulnerable to future violence. In response to requests from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist refugees from protracted situations, between 2003 and 2005, the Australian government increased the proportion of refugees resettled from African nations from around 33 per cent of its annual intake to over 70 per cent, with the majority coming from the Horn of Africa. (4) Since 2002 more than 20,000 refugees from the HoA have been resettled to Australia. The majority of those came from Southern Sudan.

Resettlement is an opportunity to regain and rebuild shattered lives. Despite experiences of persecution, violence, forced migration, and loss of family and home, many refugees from the HoA are settling successfully and not only working for themselves, but also assisting their communities both in Australia and in Africa. They are succeeding in their new lives, and contributing to the richness of the social, cultural, and economic fabric of Australia. The resilience and adaptability of refugees and refugee communities is evident in the way refugees from the HoA seize the opportunities they are given in resettlement, while carrying with them the horrendous experiences of their past. …

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