Addressing Immigrant And Refugee Integration For The Future Of World Peace

The integration of Immigrants and Refugee’s into our ever increasingly globalized world is vital for the future of world peace. Nation-states still hold close to their national identity and to avoid the under-representation of minorities and clash of civilizations through social cleavages as described by Samuel Huntington, issues of integration need to be addressed.

It is often easiest to label immigrants or refugee as outsiders while offering them language courses and a brief welcome to a state, but not openly engaging with them in this process. There needs to be a more active, relation building initiative than what is currently available. It is possible that refugees will one day be repatriated to their home country, but many may not want to return or give up their new citizenship by the time war has ended. By looking at Turkey and Germany, two countries that host multicultural nations, and the largest populations of Syrian refugees, we can see what is being done to promote integration, to encourage the acceptance by both sides of cultural differences and community inclusion.

Oxford dictionary defines integration as the intermixing of people who were once segregated, while Cambridge dictionary states that it to join society and group of people. More specifically integration requires culture and language and the melding of two into one adapted identity. It is sometimes difficult to find the balance of the host states culture being learnt and the refugees culture being valued and respected at the same time.

Historically, the process of integration has had limited success, an example of this was the Turkish population in Germany known as the ‘Gastarbeiter’, who were invited to Germany in 1950 to provide labour after the loss of population in World War II. Claus Mueller described this as a ‘dilemma’ for Germany, whereby the Turkish people were left in their own communities to work but never learnt the German language and began living ‘parallel’ to the German state, which leads to a low socioeconomic class that were discriminated against and secluded themselves across many generations. There is the risk, particularly with Syrian refugees, not just in Germany, that they could experience the same dilemma. Feeling like they are ‘stateless’ for the rest of their lives, which can then lead to political issues of representation, religious underrepresentation and general life dissatisfaction.

The European Parliament financially supports member states integration of migrants through the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. The regional fund allocated 140 million Euros to the education of formal and informal level that would reach 1.5 million refugees.  The European Union, creates incentive and their Research Blog emphasizes the process of education, that is accessible, participated in and can be measured through performance. While the EU encourages and can financially support these integration processes, it is up to the member states how they choose to run these programmes.

See below how two states compare in their integration policy:

In Germany integration can range from the housing of migrants and refugees to language or vocational training, general skill teaching and employment. According to Dr. Doğuş Şimşek and Metin Çorabatır’s report, their integration policy makes these courses available after 6 weeks of moving to the country and if they fail to attend, it results in their benefits being cut, this is a way to create an incentive to attend and actively integrate. Low paying jobs are also created for employment and have the same disciplinary consequences as above.

While integration can be the valuing one culture over the other, it is also creating equality in the long term for all residing in the state and giving the people with the title of refugee status a chance to make a life in another country, with the chances of returning home in the near future slim. The Financial Times gives two examples of Syrian refugees that were supported by locals in finding a flat and the other after completing a German course being employed in a chrome plating position. He said “It’s hard at the start in Germany — there’s so much paperwork — but it gets easier,“ he says. “My hopes have been fulfilled. I love the work.”

While this is just two of the 1.2 million Refugees that have sought asylum in Germany, it shows that when people reach out and use their skills to integrate into housing and the workforce, people can be accepting and helpful. But it also suggests that Syrians must feel accepted and respected to want to reach out to these services and the reciprocation process for them is important in feeling valued.

In Turkey, there has been an influx of 3.7 million refugees during the Syrian war and after the EU paid them to close their border due to the pressure on housing and integration, this massive population became more evident than ever. Turkey is not a member of the EU but receives international support from the EU which reached 3billion Euro between 2016-2017. According to Dr. Doğuş Şimşek and Metin Çorabatır’s report, there is no defined term for integration in the Turkish asylum-seeking plan, and further, the economist reports how they care for refugees but fail to integrate them successfully. This creates a significant underclass position for Syrians seeking refuge in Turkey and could result in dissatisfaction, revolt and violence in the future if they do not make plans for formal integration.

Recently one of their approaches was addressed; with refugee schooling. Currently, there are schools that are only for Syrian children and in Arabic, while this helps their education, it does not encourage integration. Irin News states they will phase out Syrian school and integrate the children into the Turkish curriculum. This progress is good, but it is concerning of what happens to the rest of the refugee population such as young adults and middle-aged people, who also need to integrate alongside their children, the process and success of this are unknown. It is evident that Turkey needs to take serious action for integrating refugees, such as establishing a migration ministry and re-looking their refugee policy. There needs to be at the minimum, funding for state language course which give people the first door of access to accepting the Turkish culture and ability to enter the workforce through the language.

There are large variances in Turkey and Germany’s policy regarding integration of Syrian Refugees. Possible reasons for this could be to do with Turkey being a lower welfare state, but also their approach to the future repatriation of the Syrian refugee citizen; with Turkey being geographically closer to Syria they see repatriation easier when the war ends, this is also reflected in their Asylum-seeking policy and the limitation on citizenship for those of refugee status suggests they are temporarily residing visitors and that repatriation is preferred.

From the view of a nation, all these options and why they have these come with justified opinions and reasons. Turkey can learn a lot from the German integration policy; that would help integration and support their citizens to adapt to the large influx and avoid a dangerous class division between nationals and refugees. But beyond the integration programmes, there are other ways that integration can be encouraged. This can be through staggered housing where refugees are housed in local national communities rather than barracks or camps that create the ‘othering’ of these people.

It could also be up to the nations to have a positive mindset of the refugees and what they can offer to their country in terms or services. This attitude flows onto the citizens which creates a warmer more welcoming attitude of people into groups, clubs and general space that is priceless for integration. As citizens, having an open-door approach to new people coming into your nation is invaluable, but getting involved through voluntary work or taking time to talk to or get to know the refugees is the most basic form of integration.

Money is important for integration of refugees into nation-states, giving them access to language class, housing and food, but a broader verbal and emotional welcoming by national citizens is even more important. To be able to recognize refugees as people like them and take time to talk to them or spend time getting to know their culture and space is something money can’t buy. It is that relatability created through positive introductions and willingness to learn that creates those relationships and inclusions and is something every rational person or refugee has access to just by being human.

This should be a priority of the state, to reflect a positive inclusionary wave over their nations to support the integration, that state services can then build on. The services of the state that were described in the German integration model can be applied in many countries as a great basis for supporting refugees. That alongside an inclusionary attitude from the host country toward refugees will create the optimum chances for further natural integration to occur along with peaceful communities that are content living in the neighbourhoods of one another, with equality on their mind.