Mapping of the migration activities of European National Red Cross Societies Update SWEDEN

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1 Mapping of the migration activities of European National Red Cross Societies Update SWEDEN Contents I. INTEGRATION, EMPOWERMENT AND PROMOTION OF DIVERSITY... 3 Mentor to Mentor... 3 Homework support... 3 Swedish conversation for migrants... 3 Social activities at accommodation centers for asylum seekers... 4 On the run a role play on forced migration... 4 Inclusion through Volunteering... 4 European web site on integration... 5 Project MIPEX Integration policies: Who benefits?... 5 Buddy Groups activities for unaccompanied asylum seeking minors... 5 II. MEDICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT... 5 Rehabilitation and treatment of trauma and torture survivors in... 5 Raising awareness on torture victims and their rehabilitation needs... 6 Health care centres for undocumented migrants... 6 III. TRACING AND REUNITING FAMILIES... 7 RFL activities... 7 Legal advisory service on family reunification... 7 IV. SERVICES TO DETAINED MIGRANTS... 8 Visits at detention centres... 8 V. ASSISTING MIGRANTS IN RETURN... 8 Voluntary Return Assistance... 8 VI. SUPPORT TO ASYLUM SEEKERS AND REFUGEES... 9 Legal advisory service on asylum... 9 Social activities at accommodation centers for asylum seekers... 9 Buddy Groups activities for unaccompanied asylum seeking minors... 9 VII. ACTIVITIES TOWARDS UNACCOMPANIED MINORS... 9 Activities for unaccompanied minors and youth... 9 Buddy Groups activities for unaccompanied asylum seeking minors Rue de Trèves, Brussels. Tel: +32 (0) Fax: +32 (0) Mail:

2 VIII. ACTIVITIES TOWARDS UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS Open House for undocumented migrants in Stockholm Health care centres for undocumented migrants Homework support Swedish conversation for migrants IX. ACTIVITIES WITH ROMA COMMUNITIES Supporting vulnerable Roma returning to Serbia and Kosovo X. HUMANITARIAN DIPLOMACY AND ADVOCACY Conducting advocacy initiatives on migration Using publications in advocacy activities Membership to international networks

3 I. INTEGRATION, EMPOWERMENT AND PROMOTION OF DIVERSITY Mentor to Mentor, activity on approx locations. Currently mentorship activities are run by local branches in locations. Through these activities, migrants are able to increase their knowledge of the local culture and enhance their professional opportunities. Mentors also gain new perspectives and knowledge of the world and become more open to other cultures and traditions. Volunteer mentors and migrant job seekers are recruited through advertisement, contacts and networks, internet, posters, etc. All participants are interviewed and matched by the Swedish Red Cross based on their professional backgrounds and interests. The Swedish Red Cross also provides training for mentors on how best to support and encourage their mentee. Homework support, activity run on approx. 200 locations. In approximately 200 locations around, local branches of the Swedish Red Cross offer homework support to migrants, irrespective of their legal status, and to Swedes alike. This activity is run by volunteers who are often retired teachers. The assistance provided covers all levels of education, including university or adult migrants studying Swedish in language schools, depending on the knowledge and capacities of the volunteers. Swedish conversation for migrants, activity run on approx. 100 locations. In approximately 100 locations, Swedish Red Cross local branches organise interactive sessions where migrants, irrespective of their legal status, can practice Swedish. These constitute more conversation time than proper language tuition but they also provide participants with an opportunity to meet new people and to interact socially with people outside of their day-to-day life. All migrants are welcome, which implies that many participants may be undocumented. For the latter, the Swedish conversation sessions may be one of few activities open to them to socialize with Swedes or with other migrants. The sessions are run by volunteers. They may be from or are migrants established for a long time in the country. 3

4 Social activities at accommodation centers for asylum seekers, activity run on approx. 100 locations. The number of asylum seekers has increased during the last years in and many local branches of the Swedish Red Cross have identified a need for social activities near the accommodation places for asylum seekers. The activities may vary and include for example arranging cafés, outdoor activities, civic and local information, playing sports, etc. Within this framework, the Swedish Red Cross often cooperates with other local organizations. On the run a role play on forced migration Youth The Swedish Red Cross Youth organises workshops using a role play on forced migration for children and youth in schools and others. The role play is designed to counter xenophobia by foster participants understanding of what it means to be displaced from your country of origin. It is based upon the interaction of participants (who play the roles of refugees) and instructors (who play the roles of various characters that the refugees meet on their long journey). By using this unconventional learning method, young people are more likely to develop tolerance for refugees and reduce prejudice and racism. The role play is also meant as a starting point for further work on issues related to migration and forced displacement. More information is available (in Swedish) on the website of the Swedish Red Cross Youth. Inclusion through Volunteering Starting date: April 2013 End date: June 2015, in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö EU Source of funding: The project is co-financed by European Fund for the Integration of third country nationals The Swedish Red Cross has set up the project Inclusion through Volunteering (Frivillighet för Delaktighet) to encourage access to voluntary engagement and improve conditions for participation and engagement in the local community for migrants. The project is established in socio-economic vulnerable areas of the three major cities in : Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. The Inclusion through Volunteering project uses dialogue and participatory methods as the foundation for its activities, thus involving participants at all stages of the project through focus groups, questionnaires and interviews. One fundamental aspect of the project is to consider every beneficiary of Swedish Red Cross activities on behalf of migrants as a potential Red Cross volunteer. It empowers them and encourages them to become future activity leaders. The project also includes exchanges with National Red Cross Societies in other EU-countries on the following themes: 4

5 development of the First Aid training and adaption to the target group increased knowledge of empowerment and participation related to integration European web site on integration The Swedish Red Cross is the focal point in to the European web site on integration as well as the Swedish NGO representative in the European integration forum. The website is updated regularly on integration practices in the country. Project MIPEX Integration policies: Who benefits? Starting date: 2013 End date: 2015 The Swedish Red Cross is the focal point in for the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) which is a fully interactive tool and reference guide to assess, compare and improve integration policy. MIPEX measures integration policies in all European Union Member States plus Norway, Switzerland, Canada and the USA. Using 148 policy indicators MIPEX creates a rich, multi-dimensional picture of migrants opportunities to participate in society by assessing governments commitment to integration. By measuring policies and their implementation it reveals whether all residents are guaranteed equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. Up until 2015, the Swedish Red Cross will monitor the development and use of indicators in integration debates. (MIPEX 2015) Buddy Groups activities for unaccompanied asylum seeking minors Please refer to the section on Activities towards unaccompanied minors. II. MEDICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT Rehabilitation and treatment of trauma and torture survivors in Starting date: 1986, in Stockholm, Skövde, Malmö, Skellefteå and Uppsala. In the cities of Skövde, Malmö, Skellefteå, Stockholm and Uppsala, the Swedish Red Cross runs centres for rehabilitation of torture victims, as well as for migrants suffering from severe trauma. Red Cross psychologists and physiotherapists provide services to migrants, irrespective of legal status, including unaccompanied minors. In, the health care entitlements for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants do not cover psychological problems so the Red Cross provides this service free of charge to an ever-increasing 5

6 number of people. Most common problems among beneficiaries are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), somatic problems, as well as secondary traumatisation for children of torture victims. The Centres also contribute to raising awareness on these issues and on the services provided among different stakeholders, such as reception centres, schools, authorities, legal guardians and doctors. Red Cross Staff also facilitate training, awareness-raising activities, lectures and conferences for the general public as well as to authorities and other institutions. The Staff of the rehabilitation Centres work in close cooperation with the Swedish Red Cross lawyers on asylum cases on issues regarding identification and assessment of asylum claims related to torture and trauma. Raising awareness on torture victims and their rehabilitation needs Starting date: 2011 End date: 2013 European source of funding: European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) The Swedish Red Cross developed a project to improve the structures for rehabilitation of torture victims and traumatised migrants as well as to promote the visibility and raise awareness on these issues. Based on the observation that there is a general lack of knowledge about the effects of trauma on individuals, as well as insufficient funding for treatment activities targeting traumatized migrants, this project, funded by the EIDHR, aims to increase awareness of these issues among decision makers. In this regard, the Swedish Red Cross participated in a number of public awareness raising initiatives such as a film on the true story of the son of an Iraqi soldier who arrived unaccompanied in when he was 5 years old. This Movie, The Guerrilla Son touches on many subjects such as unaccompanied minors, family reunification, asylum, migration, integration and rehabilitation of torture victims. The Swedish Red Cross also participated in the tour of a theatre play entitled Apathetic for beginners and which pictures the particular issues of children having experienced secondary trauma and as a result become apathetic. Finally a book entitled attempt to murder on trust was published with the support of the Swedish Red Cross. It compiled interviews of victims of torture and aimed to raise awareness on the specific trauma of migrants. Furthermore, within the framework of this project, the Swedish Red Cross organised several visits to national societies for dialogue, exchange and lessons learnt on rehabilitation for torture victims in other countries, specifically Liberia and Iraq, in order to share experiences and lessons learned between countries of origin. The aim of this initiative was also to gather information on the situation in these countries to better address the trauma of asylum seekers once in. Health care centres for undocumented migrants Starting date: 2006 in Stockholm and Gothenburg The heath care centre offers free of charge consultations with volunteer general practitioners, nurses and psychologists for persons who due to legal status do not have access to the subsidized Swedish health care. Patients may come to the centre to talk to a nurse who will assess their medical needs, make an appointment with a doctor or, wherever possible, refer them to the ordinary health clinics. 6

7 The centre has agreements with pharmacies, certain surgeries and laboratories to be able to provide treatment, tests and X-rays to their patients. It also conducts awareness-raising activities targeting doctors and the medical staff of hospitals. The Swedish Government introduced reforms to the health care system in 2013 granting access to health care, including ordinary care, to undocumented children under the age of 18 and access to health care that cannot be postponed, including dental care, maternity care, contraceptive counseling and sexual and reproductive care to all undocumented migrants. The activities of the Swedish Red Cross health care centers are adapted to this new situation also contributing to awareness-raising on the new legislation and clarifications of responsibilities that come with the reform. The centre in Gothenburg is run in partnership with the Rosengrenska Foundation and organises for a doctor to come to a drop-in centre once a week to meet and treat patients. Volunteer medical students also come to provide information and advice including via a phone line. The centre also provides food and clothes to undocumented migrants. III. TRACING AND REUNITING FAMILIES RFL activities The Swedish Red Cross Restoring Family Links (RFL) activities are extensive and represent an important part of its migration and integration work. RFL services include tracing, exchanging Red Cross messages, confirming a family member's detention and other such activities, each with the same purpose: to clarify the fate of missing family members. Services also include family reunification activities such as practical and legal assistance, as well as a travel support programme. Migrants account for the vast majority of tracing requests received. Also, unaccompanied minors form a great part of the Swedish Red Cross RFL case load and their number has drastically increased over the past few years. The RFL staff (approximately 10 persons who also provide general advice on asylum procedure) of the Swedish Red Cross works with approximately 30 volunteer groups across the country receiving beneficiaries and initiating the tracing requests or dealing with other related issues. Beneficiaries are invited to call a common toll free line to receive information about the services offered by the Red Cross as well as for information and guidance on migration issues. More information on the Swedish Red Cross RFL activities is available here. Legal advisory service on family reunification, in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. The Swedish Red Cross employs a team of lawyers (currently 3) who provide legal advice, assistance and representation in the family reunification procedure. This process can be a lengthy and difficult one for which the Swedish State does not provide legal aid. The lawyers work closely with the advocacy team in order to highlight relevant issues and push for changes with policy makers. 7

8 IV. SERVICES TO DETAINED MIGRANTS Visits at detention centres The Swedish Red Cross conducts regular visits to Detention Centers for migrants in. These visits, conducted essentially by volunteers, are of a social character and look to provide psychosocial support to the detainees. The aim of the visits is to ensure that the detainees are able to meet and speak to someone outside the Detention Centre. The volunteers main task is to listen to the detainees who are free to talk about whatever they would like: their previous lives, their present situation in detention or the future. Upon request, volunteers also play games or organize other activities with the detainees. Should the detainees call to the attention of the volunteers any lack of care in the Detention Centre, for example the absence of a nurse, volunteers have the possibility to raise these issues directly with the detention centres staff. If more structural problems are identified, they will flag these issues with the responsible Red Cross Officer for further investigation and possible discussion with the Detention Centre Director. Whenever a detainee would like to discuss his/her individual asylum case, to trace a family member or to talk about his/her possible return, he/she is referred to the Red Cross migration toll-free helpline. (see also the section on Tracing and reuniting families ). V. ASSISTING MIGRANTS IN RETURN Voluntary Return Assistance Starting date: 2008 End date: 2015 European source of funding: European Return Fund Following an initial project with the Kosovo Red Cross from 2003 to 2005, to gather information about the situation in this country where many migrants in were being returned to, the Swedish Red Cross decided, in 2008, to go further and ensure that the information, and reintegration needs or returnees were being met. It has thus developed close collaborations with sister National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in countries of origin to facilitate the voluntary return preparatory process by providing general and specific information, provide humanitarian and reintegration assistance upon return and allow for follow up of individual cases. This assistance on the ground is provided based on an individual needs and vulnerabilities assessment conducted by Swedish Red Cross staff and the beneficiaries themselves. This project, initially conducted for migrants returning to Kosovo, Serbia and Iraq, has been extended in 2010 to other countries such as Macedonia and Russia. Based on its experience and on the knowledge gathered, the Swedish Red Cross also conducts advocacy activities towards national authorities to improve the return process. In this regard, it made a number of key recommendations and raised issues concerning a specifically vulnerable group of returnees: women, alone or within a family, returning to Kosovo. 8

9 To facilitate the timely exchange of information on countries of return, the Swedish Red Cross, in collaboration with the Swiss, Czech and German Red Crosses, has set up a Return Network which allows for members to share experiences and knowledge about countries and regions of origin, as well as to create a connection on individual cases between National Societies in sending countries and those in receiving states. The European Red Cross Return Initiative (ERCRI) was a joint project by British Red Cross, Bulgarian Red Cross, Danish Red Cross, German Red Cross, Swedish Red Cross, Swiss Red Cross and Red Cross/EU Office. The project ended in ERCRI published a study on how to support sustainable return in safety and dignity which provided an overview of the return processes and of stakeholders engaged in return activities in Europe, highlighted the European National Red Cross Societies approached to return assistance, and outlined the situation in countries of return. Finally the study outlined a set of recommendations towards EU Members States governments and EU institutions. VI. SUPPORT TO ASYLUM SEEKERS AND REFUGEES Legal advisory service on asylum, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. The Swedish Red Cross employs a team of lawyers (currently 3) who provide legal assistance on asylum matters and on a case-by-case basis representation of asylum-seekers. They also provide assistance in family reunification procedures (see also the section on Tracing and reuniting families ). The work of the Swedish Red Cross lawyers is conducted in close collaboration with the rehabilitation centres (see the section on Medical and psychological support ). Given the specific experience of the Swedish Red Cross on assisting torture and trauma victims, as well as its extensive knowledge of gender issues, cases linked to these problems are currently prioritized, along with family reunification. Social activities at accommodation centers for asylum seekers Please refer to the section on Integration, empowerment and promotion of diversity. Buddy Groups activities for unaccompanied asylum seeking minors Please refer to the section on Activities towards unaccompanied minors. VII. ACTIVITIES TOWARDS UNACCOMPANIED MINORS Activities for unaccompanied minors and youth The Swedish Red Cross pays particular attention to unaccompanied minors, providing advice during the asylum and return processes, assistance with family reunification, response to tracing requests and 9

10 exchange of Red Cross messages. These services are offered to all beneficiaries but unaccompanied minors represent a large beneficiary group for several of these services. The Swedish Red Cross rehabilitation centres specialised in the treatment of tortured and traumatized victims (see the section on Medical and psychological support ) also have facilities dedicated to receiving unaccompanied minors. The Swedish Red Cross also organises social activities aimed at fostering communication and dialogue, breaking isolation and facilitating everyday life while unaccompanied minors awaiting the decision from the migration authorities. Buddy Groups activities for unaccompanied asylum seeking minors Starting date: 2010 Youth The Buddy Groups are groups of young volunteers from the Swedish Red Cross Youth who, on weekly basis, visit homes for unaccompanied asylum seeking children and youth. The purpose of the visits is to arrange meaningful activities and to meet with other young people. Within the weekly activities the minors are also involved in sharing the responsibility with the volunteers for the group s activities. Many activities also aim at improving their language skills. The Swedish Red Cross Youth coordinates Buddy Groups throughout the country, in approximately 30 accommodation centers for unaccompanied minors. Since the number of unaccompanied minors continues to increase the Swedish Red Cross Youth believes that there is a need to continue and expand the activities and plan to do during VIII. ACTIVITIES TOWARDS UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS Open House for undocumented migrants in Stockholm Starting date: 2013 In early 2013, the Swedish Red Cross launched a new initiative to provide social, legal and medical assistance to undocumented migrants. A social worker, a lawyer and a nurse specialised in health promotion are running the centre along with volunteers. The Youth Red Cross also offers services for children such as leisure activities, homework assistance and discussion sessions in Swedish. The lawyer dedicated to the centre guides people with regards to their status and provides legal advice. The nurse working at the Open House focuses on health promotion and provides information to migrants in different languages on the Swedish health system in general and on specific issues, such as reproductive health. Health care centres for undocumented migrants Please refer to the section on Medical and Psychological support. Homework support Please refer to the section on Integration, empowerment and promotion of diversity. 10

11 Swedish conversation for migrants Please refer to the section on Integration, empowerment and promotion of diversity. IX. ACTIVITIES WITH ROMA COMMUNITIES Supporting vulnerable Roma returning to Serbia and Kosovo Starting date: 2008 Many beneficiaries of the Swedish Red Cross project on assistance to persons being voluntarily returned (see section on assisting migrants in return ) are Roma. Specific information about the situation of Roma communities in Serbia and Kosovo is thus provided to beneficiaries, and adapted reintegration assistance is provided. X. HUMANITARIAN DIPLOMACY AND ADVOCACY Conducting advocacy initiatives on migration The Swedish Red Cross conducts extensive advocacy activities seeking to influence political decisionmaking, legislation and implementation. To this end, it: Monitors the implementation and application of national and EU law; Comments on the proposed national and EU legislation; Has an expert role in public commissions enquiries; and Engages in continuous dialogue with relevant government ministries and agencies at all levels, as well as within the RC/RC movement. Using publications in advocacy activities A number of publications reflect the advocacy work by the Swedish Red Cross on migration and integration issues, such as: Gaps in reception and integration of asylum seekers and newly established migrants Enhanced gender-sensitivity in the asylum procedure Detention under scrutiny (the Swedish Red Cross is also the focal point for a current international study on alternatives to detention contact person Alexandra Segenstedt, ) Application of criteria for protection 11

12 Women in the asylum procedure Reports on family reunification 2012 and 2013 These reports are available online on the Swedish Red Cross website here. Membership to international networks The Swedish Red Cross is a member of the following Networks and platforms: The European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) Member The European Network of Rehabilitation Centres for Survivors of Torture Member The European Reintegration Support Organisations Network on return Member 12

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