Promoting best practices to prevent racism and xenophobia towards forced migrants through community building
I GET YOU
Promoting best practices to prevent racism and xenophobia towards forced migrants through community building
Co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union
Cover photo Outdoor drumming session as part of JRS Malta’s school outreach programme. (JRS Malta)
Date of publication December 2017 Author Solange Kimamo Copy editor Chiara Leone Ganado Publisher Jesuit Refugee Service Malta Design Malcolm Bonello
Contact details Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Malta SAC Sports Complex 50 Triq ix-Xorrox B’Kara, Malta +356 21 442751 email@example.com www.jrsmalta.org
Glossary of Terms
Racism and xenophobia towards
forced migrants in Malta
Development of methodology
How the research was conducted
Summary of Quantitative Results
from Mapping Phase
Results of the Qualitative Phase
Inspiring Community Building Initiatives
Guidelines for Best Practices for Community Building Initiatives
This publication is part of I Get You: Promoting best practices to prevent racism and xenophobia towards forced migrants through community building, a research and awareness raising project funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union, with cofunding from the Open Society Foundation and Porticus Foundation. The project was coordinated by JRS Europe with partners in eight European Union Member States: Belgium, Croatia, France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Romania, Malta and Spain. The views expressed in this publication are those of JRS Malta and do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of any of the project funders or of the organizations and individuals interviewed as part of this research. Their contribution is acknowledged with gratitude as it would not have been possible to implement this project without their support.
Foreword The arrival of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers to Europe in 2015 was met with mixed reactions. States across Europe, with few exceptions, responded by putting up walls – in some cases quite literally – and scrambled to reach agreements with neighbouring countries in an effort to contain the flow of migrants. On a more individual level, many citizens of Europe reacted in fear, and most raised concerns about how the influx would change the face of Europe.
time and energy to provide support to refugees. It is clear from our research that NGOs in Malta provide an array of basic, yet essential, services to refugees and forced migrants, which they cannot get from elsewhere, and they do this with very limited resources. The project was also an opportunity for us to reflect on how we can go beyond the provision of basic services and develop projects and programmes which bring people together and strengthen our communities.
Yet this is not the whole picture. Across Europe, alongside the fear and hostility, we saw citizens reaching out to migrants, opening the doors of their homes, offering shelter and practical support, and building relationships.
In a national context where migrants and asylum seekers are too often portrayed and perceived as an unwelcome burden, bringing crime and disorder to local communities, this report, with its focus on community building, could not be more relevant. It highlights the fact that, while it is no doubt important to uphold law and order, this alone is nowhere near sufficient to ensure the wellbeing of our society. We need to go beyond and to invest resources, time and energy in initiatives that promote understanding, respect and reconciliation between different communities living within our localities.
I Get You celebrates these initiatives: civil society efforts, whether formal or informal, organised or spontaneous, which aim to bring down the walls that divide us – insider from outsider, citizen from foreigner, refugee from host – and help people to come together, understand each other and build relationships. Through this project, led by JRS Europe, national partners in eight countries mapped and evaluated civil society initiatives to learn from them how best to help refugees to rebuild their lives, while strengthening the community. For us in Malta, this project was an opportunity to better appreciate the work being done by civil society organisations, most of which are largely dependent on volunteers, who give freely of their
JRS MALTA DIRECTOR
It is our hope that this publication will raise awareness of the work being done by civil society and inspire more community building initiatives in Malta.
Glossary of Terms 04
Accompaniment: A direct and personal approach of individual interaction, cooperation and companionship between people, which places a value on human dignity and in the long-term leads to mutual empowerment. Asylum Seeker: Someone who has made – or intends to make – an application for international protection. Community Building Initiative (CBI): Local initiative that spreads a culture of welcome, promotes interculturalism and provides activities and spaces where forced migrants and local citizens interact. Such initiatives are unique and creative in how they carry out their work. All CBIs have these basic characteristics: Bring together local citizens and refugees Have regular meeting times in set locations Promote social inclusion of refugees into the host society Forced Migrant: This is not an official or legal term. However, JRS Europe uses the definition to describe people who are not refugees according to the 1951 Geneva Convention but who are embraced by the “de facto refugee” definition found in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Hence, for us, a forced migrant is a person who cannot return to his or her country of origin because of human rights violations (or well-founded fear of the same), armed conflict, erroneous economic policy or natural disasters.
Refugee: According to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees adopted by the UN in July 1951, a refugee is a person who, owing to a wellfounded fear of persecution, for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, is outside his or her country of origin and is unable or, owing to such a fear, is unwilling to return to it. Social Inclusion: A process which ensures that those at risk of societal exclusion gain the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social, political and cultural life and to enjoy a standard of living that is considered normal in the society in which they live. It implies that people have greater participation in decision making which affects their lives and access to their fundamental rights. According to the United Nations, “Refugees join the many other minority groups who are domestic targets of exclusion.”1 Integration: For JRS integration is a dynamic, twoway process—between the forced migrant and the society that receives them— of social interaction to overcome separation between people with the objectives of reducing economic and social marginalization and supporting more cohesive, inclusive and robust societies. Racism and Xenophobia: The belief in race, colour, descent, religion or belief, national or ethnic origin as a factor determining aversion to individuals or groups.2
1 Silver, Hilary. UN/DESA Working Papers. The Contexts of Social Inclusion. October 2015. http://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2015/wp144_2015.pdf 2 European Commission. Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia. 28 November 2001. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:52001PC0664:EN:HTML
Introduction Across Europe, local citizens and organisations have opened their doors to people in search of safety – forced migrants and refugees – sharing meals, learning languages and simply being together, what JRS has termed Community Building Initiatives (CBIs). CBIs spread the culture of welcome in Europe, creating inclusive communities where everyone is valued. Jesuit Refugee Service Europe (JRS Europe) and its partners created I Get You to learn more about the work of these local communities in nine countries of Europe and to share the results of the observations and research. I Get You has seen that Community Building Initiatives promote the social inclusion of forced migrants thereby countering racism and xenophobia in society. JRS defines integration as a dynamic, two-way process—between the forced migrant and the society that receives them—of social interaction to overcome separation between people with the objectives of reducing economic and social marginalization and supporting more cohesive, inclusive and robust societies. I Get You has seen that social inclusion is an essential step for the holistic integration of forced migrants and local communities. In June 2016, the European Commission released its Action Plan on the integration of third country nationals3 in response to the increase in the number of people arriving to Europe, which further built on the Common Basic Principles4 for immigrant integration, published in 2004. The plan
asserts that integration is the precondition for an inclusive and prosperous society in the long run, and calculates that the costs of non-integration are higher than the cost of investment in integration policies. The key areas identified by the plan to facilitate integration were: language learning, education and training, labour market access— including the acquisition and recognition of skills and qualifications—and access to basic services such as housing and medical care. In addition, it provides that particularly vulnerable groups should have access to specialised services.
In response to the release of the Action Plan, JRS Europe, along with eight other Christian organisations working on asylum and migration in Brussels, published Comments on the EU Action Plan on the Integration of Third Country Nationals5 in February 2017. This policy paper finds that, while the plan proposed by the Commission provided a comprehensive way forward, implementing the plan continues to prove challenging. Therefore, effort needs to be concentrated on fostering inclusive employment strategies, social protection, labour market integration, pre-departure, prearrival and post-arrival measures, and education. Above all, the paper recognises “[t]he integration of migrants in Europe must be based on dialogue and shared rights and responsibilities, ensuring full participation in accordance with the law, empowerment and inclusion of everyone in society” (p. 1) Finally, although they are disproportionally affected by, or at risk of, societal exclusion and marginalisation, migrants do possess resilience and internal capacities to become successful
3 European Commission. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Action Plan on the integration of third country nationals. 2016. https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration/proposal-implementation-package/docs/20160607/communication_action_plan_integration_third-country_nationals_en.pdf 4 Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union. Common Basic Principles. 2004. http://www.eesc.europa.eu/resources/docs/common-basic-principles_en.pdf 5 Christian Group. Comments on the Commission Action Plan for the Integration of Third Country Nationals. 2017. https://jrseurope.org/assets/Publications/File/JRS-CG-integration-paper.pdf
and contributing members of their new societies – if they are, from the outset, included and given proper support and resources.
I Get You’s research and findings are also timely in that they complement recent research conducted, and reports published, by Caritas Europa6 and the European Network Against Racism (ENAR)7. As Caritas Europa pointed out in their report Welcome: Migrants Make Europe Stronger, much is covered in the Action Plan that focuses on the need to counter racism and xenophobia, “but little is foreseen to give states the responsibility for educating migrants, as well as educating the receiving community about its multicultural richness and need for social cohesion” (p. 23). I Get You has seen that this is where CBIs and civil society have stepped in. CBIs have taken on the role of educating both locals and forced migrants about each other by simply bringing people together in spaces of encounter, thereby improving the social relations of communities. The main findings of the research conducted by project partners across Europe show that CBIs encourage encounters between locals and forced migrants and that these initiatives promote unique models of collaboration between citizens and local authorities. Firstly, encounter between locals and refugees is key to changing the way people perceive each other and to combat racism at grassroots level. Secondly, small-scale, locallybased initiatives do not only change the way people look at each other but also the way citizens and administrations interact. Thirdly, the best results to foster social inclusion for forced migrants and refugees are achieved when administrative authorities and citizens work together to build inclusive societies where everyone is valued.
The full findings of the European research and the lessons learnt are documented and explained in a report published by JRS Europe entitled I Get You – Europe.8 This report, published by JRS Malta, outlines the findings of the research conducted in Malta as part of this project. The research was
implemented using a methodology developed by the project partners in order to analyse what makes CBIs successful in the services and activities they provide for forced migrants. To do this, I Get You focuses on the experience of the CBIs themselves, by allowing those who participate in them to articulate, through questionnaires and in-person interviews, the different criteria that have made them successful and the aspects of their work that have been more challenging. The report starts by describing the local context and then outlines our findings. It concludes with recommendations to the Maltese government aimed at ensuring support for civil society initiatives focusing on community development and guidelines for developing CBIs, drawn up by JRS Europe on the basis of the outcomes of the research conducted across Europe. 1.1 CONTEXT Malta, with an area of just over 316 km² and a population of around 434,403, of which 92.9% are native Maltese9 is the most densely-populated Member State of the European Union, and one of the most densely populated countries in the world. This factor, coupled with a population that perceives itself as ethnically and religiously homogenous and a history of colonisation and emigration, has contributed to the perception of forced migrants being considered as unwelcome intruders. Since 2002, Malta has experienced the arrival of sub-Saharan forced migrants and asylum-seekers arriving irregularly from the Libyan coast. The joint Italian and EU-led rescue operations in the Mediterranean led to a significant drop in the number of boat arrivals in Malta, with the last boat reaching the Maltese shores in January 2015. Although arrivals through the Mediterranean Sea have come to a halt, there has been a steady increase in arrivals by plane, with a total of 1,928 in 2016, an increase of 4.6% from the previous year.10 According to the United Nations High
6 Caritas Europe. Welcome: Migrants Make Europe Stronger. 2016. http://www.caritas.eu/sites/default/files/welcome_2016.pdf 7 European Network Against Racism. Racism and Discrimination in the Context of Migration in Europe: ENAR Shadow Report 2015-2016. 2017. http://www.enar-eu.org/IMG/pdf/shadowreport_2015x2016_long_low_res.pdf 8 https://jrseurope.org/Assets/Publications/File/JRS_Europe_IGY_EU_Pages.pdf 9 National Statistics Office. NSO Malta. 2016. 10 National Statistics Office. NSO Malta. News Release. 2017. https://nso.gov.mt/en/News_Releases/View_by_Unit/Unit_C5/Population_and_Migration_Statistics/Documents/2017/ News2017_098.pdf
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), these asylum-seekers originated mainly from Libya, Syria, Eritrea and Somalia. This new reality, which saw asylum seekers arriving through regular routes, coupled with changes in the law and policy on detention of asylum seekers, has meant that fewer asylum seekers are detained and that those who are spend far less time in detention. This has led to the need of an increase in services centred on integration. Prejudice, misinformation and stereotypes between communities in Malta breed inequality, division and tensions. One of the essential aims of CBIs is to make the members of the local community aware of the human behind the label, to bring out the similarities, to celebrate the differences, and to show that the things that unite us are far greater than those that divide us. CBIs offer far more than the much needed assistance with language, accommodation and employment. The social and cultural interaction aspects of CBIs are critically important to foster understanding, lay the foundation for mutual engagement, and build trusting relationships in the Maltese society and the growing number of newcomers. The aim of I Get You is to identify and promote the best practices among different CBIs working on the inclusion of migrants in the fabric of Maltese society, and on raising awareness and understanding in Malta on the issues faced by forced migrants. Following the identification and mapping of twenty CBIs that are organised across Malta, a qualitative assessment of the most effective, diverse and representative CBIs was undertaken, in order to assess and identify best practices in raising awareness and creating common spaces of encounter. In this way, I Get You promotes the social inclusion of forced migrants in Malta by identifying the good work of CBIs and promoting best practices, which foster hospitality and create human bridges that break down the existing divisions.
1.2 RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA TOWARDS FORCED MIGRANTS IN MALTA In an ever-increasing reality of hostile and closed societies, with several far-right groups in Europe on the rise, it is more necessary than ever to focus efforts on trying to bridge the gap between the ever-patriotic European citizen and the refugee fleeing conflict and dictatorship, the latter often being perceived as a threatening intruder. While the social and political climate in Malta is not as tense as in other European countries (with no violent incidents or national protests taking place) and the government in recent years has been more vocal about its zero tolerance towards xenophobia, sexism or any other type of discrimination, there is extensive research showing that a segment of Maltese society is still fearful of, and discriminatory towards, forced migrants. Refugees and beneficiaries of protection have admitted to feeling unwelcome and being treated unfairly by the Maltese community.11 Although the law grants refugees and asylum-seekers substantially more rights than third-country nationals, the reality is that they are more vulnerable to discrimination and are less likely to access their rights.12
Research shows that forced migrants face discriminatory treatment across all spheres of society. African and Arab migrants, for instance, are the two minority groups in Malta facing the most disproportionate levels of discrimination when it comes to access to housing.13 It is also common for visible minorities to be refused entry into bars and clubs, and to experience discrimination when using public transportation.14 It is clear that to some extent this treatment is a reflection of the way in which a significant portion of the Maltese population perceives migrants. According to the results of a UNHCR survey, an alarming 57.6% do not think that the lifestyles and cultures brought about by forced migrants are a positive contribution towards the enrichment of their society. The majority of respondents also
11 Meet the Other Preliminary Findings: Report on Integration Research Project. Malta: UNHCR. 2012. 12 Gauci, JP. ENAR Shadow Report: Racism and related discriminatory practices in Malta. 2011. http://cms.horus.be/files/99935/MediaArchive/publications/shadow%20report%202010-11/18.%20Malta.pdf 13 Pisani, Maria, & Fsadni, Marika. Iâ€™m Not Racist, But... Immigrant and Ethnic Minority Groups and Housing in Malta - A Research Study. 2012. https://ncpe.gov.mt/en/Documents/Projects_and_Specific_Initiatives/I_m_Not_Racist/imnrb_research(1).pdf 14 ECRI Report on Malta, (fourth monitoring cycle). 2013. https://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/ecri/Country-by-country/ Malta/MLT-CbC-IV-2013-037-ENG.pdf
felt that refugees and migrants coming to Malta should alter their practices and attitudes in order to be more like Maltese citizens.
Specific cultures tend to be seen in a particularly negative light. Segments of the Maltese population, argue that the Arab culture is in conflict with other cultures, and presents a number of potentially insuperable challenges. A common view is that the Arab culture is backwards and underdeveloped, implying that contact with Arabs could hold the Maltese back.15 A survey conducted by the Maltese Government revealed that most Maltese do not appreciate the value of cultural diversity. Forced migrants are viewed as temporary residents, in transit for a few years, and are not considered as people who can aspire for full membership in Maltese society.16 This feedback needs to be understood and evaluated in a context of relatively limited interaction between Maltese people and migrants. More than 43% of respondents in the UNHCR study had never had any form of interaction with refugees or migrants. Those who did stated that their contact with refugees/migrants happens “at work” (36.4% ), “on the street” (34.2% ), “in a shop” (9.8%) and “on a bus” (2.7%) amongst others.17 This would seem to indicate that few Maltese have close, truly mutual relationships of friendship with migrants or refugees.
Not surprisingly, forced migrants and ethnic minorities appear to show a lack of trust in the Maltese authorities. The limited number of complaints relating to discrimination lodged by forced migrants before the competent authorities has been attributed to the limited powers of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE)18. According to a study by the Commission
itself, 85% of interviewees belonging to a “minority ethnic group” did not report instances of racial or ethnic discrimination to the authorities, because they believed that the situation would remain unchanged.19 Currently NCPE’s remit only allows it to investigate reports of discrimination. It can, at present, only issue a recommendation. For the time being, decisions issued by the NCPE are not enforceable. Although the limited possibility of obtaining redress in case of discrimination is worrying, the greatest obstacle to integration over the years has been the lack of a clear, consistent and holistic integration policy. Although beneficiaries of international protection are granted a number of rights, in practice their prospects of ever being anything other than ‘refugees’—i.e. outsiders in both a legal and a practical sense—is indeed limited. The situation is, naturally, far worse for those who do not qualify for international protection, but are granted a temporary form of status, such as temporary humanitarian protection (THP/N)20, as they do not enjoy any clear legal rights and their prospects of long-term legal integration are even more limited although they are granted the legal possibility to stay. There is one other category of forced migrants living and working in Malta whose situation is only marginally addressed by law or policy: forced migrants whose claim for asylum has been rejected, for whom deportation is not a possibility, who are stranded in Malta, many of them for years. The migrants in this category are mainly sub-Saharan Africans who have been in Malta for anywhere between four to ten years, with the majority of them contributing to the economy and some of whom have children attending Maltese schools. In spite of this, they are consigned to a totally precarious existence, with only very limited
15 Sammut, Gordon et al. Arabs in Europe: Arguments for and Against Integration. 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pac0000271 16 Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties. Towards A National Migrant Integration Strategy 2015 – 2020 Framework Document. 2015. 17 UNHCR. What do you think? : A report on public perception about refugees and migrants in Malta. Malta: UNHCR. 2012. http://www.unhcr.org.mt/charts/uploads/resources/read/files/5_what_do_you_think_ppr_2012_unhcr_.pdf 18 National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) is the official body in Malta to promote equality of treatment for all persons without discrimination on the grounds of sex/gender and family responsibilities, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, racial or ethnic origin, and gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. 19 National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE). Underreporting of discriminatory incidents in Malta drawn up under the Strengthening Equality Beyond Legislation Project. 2010. 20 The rights of persons granted temporary humanitarian protection (THP) are based on national policy and are not laid down by statute. This form of protection is granted on an ex gratia basis, when applicants are found not to be eligible for asylum or subsidiary protection, but are considered to be in need of protection on medical or other humanitarian grounds.
rights and constantly at risk of exploitation and abuse. As their presence in Malta is merely tolerated—they are given permission to stay until the time that they can be removed—they are only given very temporary documents, which can be withdrawn at the complete discretion of the authorities.21 Because of this they must live in deep uncertainty and constant fear of deportation, which, coupled with the harsh reality of their daily lives, progressively erodes their psychological wellbeing.22 While from a purely legalistic perspective this might make sense, as they have no legal right to stay, it is somewhat simplistic to ignore the reality that they are likely to be living in Malta for the long term—possibly for the rest of their lives. However, the situation in Malta is not completely bleak, and progress towards a future free from discriminatory or xenophobic attitudes is being made. A Human Rights and Integration Directorate was set up in 2015, having as one of its main
objectives to regularly meet with representatives of migrant groups and organisations, in order to understand their concerns, with the aim of taking up these issues with the entities concerned. In the words of its director, Silvan Agius: “We’re in favour of ‘inter-culturalism’. We don’t want to have communities sitting side by side; we want them to mix, and to be a part of the evolving Maltese identity”.23 In recent years, there has also been the creation of a Forum for Integration Affairs, made up of representatives of community leaders from various non-EU countries living in Malta. In addition, in 2015 the Government of Malta also launched a White Paper Consultation on the setting up of a Human Rights and Equality Commission. Malta also ratified Protocol 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights, providing for a general prohibition of discrimination.24 Moreover, in the coming days, on December 15, 2017, the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality, is set to launch its migrant integration strategy and action plan (Vision 2020).
21 Temporary humanitarian protection national (THPN) was also introduced as an additional form of local protection in 2010 on an ex gratia basis, to persons who have lived in Malta for at least four years and who can prove that they have made efforts to integrate in Maltese society. 22 “Uncertain future causing ‘extreme anxiety’ among migrants, Richmond Warns”, Times of Malta, Thursday February 23, 2017 23 Interview with Silvan Agius: “Failure to integrate is not an option”. MaltaToday. 2015. http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/ news/interview/59743/failure_to_integrate_is_not_an_option__silvan_agius#.WVNd1OnRbIX 24 The Protocol removes the current limitation in the application of Article 14 (non-discrimination) of the Convention and guarantees that no-one shall be discriminated against on any ground by any public authority. http://www.equalitylaw.eu/country/malta
People hold hands as part of ‘Nilqghu il-Barrani’ (Welcome the Foreigner) which has seen the Emigrants Commission in Malta led by Fr Alfred Vella turning to parishes to host asylum seekers in Malta. (I Get You / JRS Malta)
REFUGEE FROM LIBYA, INTEGRA – DINJA WAĦDA
“I came from Libya to Malta in the summer of 2014. After a couple of months in Malta, I travelled to Germany. I returned from Germany to Malta in July 2015. I liked the people in Malta. They were friendly. The Germans were not accepting of me: the Maltese were.
The first time I came to Integra was because friends recommended it. The three girls who were running Integra at that time were wonderful. They organised many activities and amazing projects that I enjoyed: photography around Valletta, going to the aquarium, food nights, talking about our different cultures and movie nights. The more friends I made at Integra, the more I enjoyed being there. I felt very welcome at the centre, and I began to visit several times per week . After returning to Malta from Germany, I was happy to be back. Many things here are similar to Libya. I was able to get a job as a cook at McDonalds. I have worked at McDonalds for almost two years. Once living and working in Malta I applied for refugee status, which I received. I feel a part of Malta because people are friendly and nice to me. It is because of the acceptance by the people of Malta that I chose to stay here. It is the most important thing – the Maltese people are good. Some of my co-workers at McDonalds are Maltese. We talk at work and sometimes go out to eat together at the end of our shift.”
Methodology 2.1 DEVELOPMENT OF METHODOLOGY The methodology used, which was developed by a Lead Methodology Committee made up of JRS Europe core staff and a number of external consultants, could be described as a mixed-methods sequential design for data collection and analysis. The research was divided into two complementary phases: an initial Mapping Phase, followed by the Qualitative Interview Phase. The intention was to first provide a broad picture of existing CBIs in terms of numbers and statistics, and then to delve deeper in order to learn more about specific CBIs that emerged from the mapped sample. The quantitative data gathered enabled the selection of a representative sample (depending on country size) with whom to conduct interviews during the qualitative phase. The CBIs were objectively selected for interviews and reflected the diversity and geographic spread of the quantitative data set. The aim of the qualitative interviews was to take a closer look at particular strategies, methods, and values, as well as at the organisational and structural aspects, of CBIs, through structured individual interviews with staff, volunteers and forced migrants involved in CBIs to allow for triangulation of the date gathered. Following the interviews, the partners entered all of the interviewee responses into an evaluation grid and undertook an analysis of the data using the criteria and methodology developed for the project.
In order to develop criteria against which the CBIs could be evaluated, the Lead Methodology Committee chose to employ the Delphi Methodology. The Delphi Methodology is a tool to establish consensus on a topic through the input of stakeholders or experts. The committee chose to engage this methodology in order to ensure that CBIs would not be assessed solely against JRS values, but rather that it would contribute to the European added value of I Get You by establishing the criteria based on a wide range of expertise in various disciplines and that could be applied to CBIs working in different national contexts. The Delphi experts included three people who are members of JRS staff, along with seven outside experts who were scholars, practitioners and/or policy experts.25
The Delphi experts came to a gradual consensus on ten criteria, the definitions of the criteria, and indicators against which to measure the criteria through four rounds of surveys and feedback. They are: Strategies • Interaction and Encounter: Strategies used by CBIs to give voice to the experience of forced migrants and create space for forced migrants and local citizens to meet and exchange experiences over a period of time.
25 The Delphi experts were: JRS: Chiara Peri (JRS Italy)- Project Manager and Coordinator of International Relations and Interreligious Dialogue; Elisabeth Razesberger (JRS Belgium)- Detention Visitor to Family Detention Units; Mark Cachia (JRS Malta)- Communications Officer. External: Anne-Claire Orban (Brussels, Belgium)- Project Coordinator and Research analyst at Pax Christi focused on issues of Islamophobia; Chiara Marchetti (Milan, Italy)- Professor at University of Milan focusing on Race, Ethnicity and Politics, Human Rights, and International Relations; Michael Collyer (Sussex, UK)- Professor of Geography at Sussex Centre for Migration Research and International Development; Nando Sigona (Birmingham, UK)- Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director at Institute for Research into Superdiversity University of Birmingham; founding editor of Migration Studies journal and an editor of The Oxford Handbook on Refugee and Forced Migration Studies; Thomas Jézéquel (Brussels, Belgium)- Policy Advisor on Migration Integration and Asylum at Eurocities; Udo Clement Enwereuzor (Florence, Italy)- Senior Adviser on Migration, Minorities and Rights of Citizenship in COSPE; Melissa Siegel (Maastricht, the Netherlands)- Professor of Migration Studies and Head of Migration Studies at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance
VOLUNTEER, COMMUNITIES OF HOSPITALITY
“I have been a member of a small Christian Life Community group for several years. Through a Jesuit priest, the idea of working with the children of a refugee family recently reunited in Malta was presented. These children needed immediate support with schoolwork and English language acquisition to progress in school. I had recently retired and now had the energy for volunteering.
At the beginning, I was intrigued with the idea of working with two or three of the family’s children. It quickly enlarged to five children. Initially, one day a week was scheduled. Immediately it became clear that more time was needed and within the month, we were meeting three and then four afternoons a week. I was also tutoring the two oldest children to focus on the level testing that was on the horizon, which meant an additional afternoon every Friday! I sought out a friend who owns a bookstore, who assisted me in finding appropriate study materials. The entire entry area at home has been transformed into a study room with tables, chairs and bookshelves filled with support materials for the children’s studies. I also attend the children’s parent-teacher meetings to glean information and assist with communication. As a result of my relationship with the Syrian family, I have also studied up on the Muslim religion. My neighbours have dropped by the house and have seen what my family and I are doing with the children. I can say that, that was a positive impact on the neighbourhood. In general, though I feel the Maltese people have been slow to embrace the refugees who have come to live in Malta, however I know that once Maltese people get to know these transplanted people and families they will be open to welcome them. Through this project, I have learned to live each day to the full. I have had to let go of some things around the house, and in my life, realizing that there are more important and meaningful things in life. “
• Participation: A strategy used by CBIs to include forced migrants in society by facilitating access to the various aspects of public and civic life. This strategy leads to the individual empowerment of the forced migrant. Methods
• Awareness-Raising: A method used by CBIs to promote interest among the general public about issues faced by forced migrants with the goal of changing perceptions and diffuse a positive message through various media channels. • Education: A method used by CBIs to disseminate experience-based knowledge and promote a well-founded discourse with local citizens, especially among children and young people, about the causes and subsequent
effects of forced migration. CBIs can also use this method to form collaborations with educational institutions (i.e. schools, universities, research institutes) to disseminate this discourse. • Support and Service Provision: A method used by CBIs to provide a forced migrant with the basic needs they require to become selfsufficient in their new society. These methods should enable and empower migrants to become independent agents in their own lives. Values • Interculturalism: A value that a CBI should promote to encourage the integration of cultural elements in order to increase respect and understanding for those cultures that are different from one’s own.
• Dignity: A value that a CBI should uphold to preserve and respect the humanity, rights and personal story of the forced migrants it serves. • Hospitality: A value that a CBI should uphold to foster a welcoming attitude and environment within the CBI itself and extend this attitude and environment to the larger society. Organisational and Structural Aspects • Sustainability: An organisational and structural aspect that a CBI should uphold to be effective and visible in its mission and delivery of services over time. • Innovation: An organisational and structural aspect that a CBI should uphold to be creative and transformational in its methods, ideas and approaches and how it extends this transformation to the rest of society. Finally, the criteria were ranked numerically and each was given a specific number of points, totalling 100 overall, to ease the eventual evaluation of the CBI against them. In this way, a CBI that was particularly strong in the value of Hospitality, for example, would receive a score of 10, whereas one that was not as strong in that area would receive a lower score. The Delphi experts agreed that the criteria would be scored in the following manner: Participation: 15 Interaction and Encounter: 13 Awareness-Raising: 10 Education: 10 Support and Service Provision: 10 Interculturalism: 10 Dignity: 10 Hospitality: 10 Sustainability: 7 Innovation : 5
2.2 HOW THE RESEARCH WAS CONDUCTED Following the selected methodology JRS Malta started out by identifying CBIs all over Malta. These CBIs were working closely with forced migrants, with the aim of combating and preventing racist and xenophobic behaviour through encounter and social inclusion. After conducting this initial identification process, a total of twenty CBIs were selected . The next stage of the process involved supporting these CBIs to complete the mapping questionnaire. General criteria for the questionnaires were developed by the Steering Committee and covered quantitative aspects of the CBIs such as, but not restricted to, the number of participants, geographic coverage, the services being offered, sustainability of the initiative, and the legal status of the forced migrants being assisted.
Through interviews and meetings with the staff of every CBI, JRS Malta obtained a clear and detailed picture of the services offered, and the activities organised. Visiting each CBI allowed for a more in-depth understanding of how each organisation operated, and turned out to be a valuable networking exercise. After having obtained a clear picture of what was being offered by the CBIs, the next phase of the research involved the qualitative assessment of nine of the initiatives, based on a clear set of criteria, in accordance with the Delphi method. The nine initiatives that met most of the criteria for an initiative to be considered a communitybuilding initiative were selected for the qualitative assessment.27 The selection was based on the information gathered during the mapping phase of the project. The qualitative evaluation was undertaken through individual semi-structured in-depth interviews with three members of the CBI; a staff member, a volunteer from the local community and a forced migrant. The qualitative interviews sought to
26 The twenty CBIs mapped were the following: St. Aloysius College: Welcoming refugees in the school community; Balzan local council: “Lejla Interkulturali Balzanija”/ Balzan Arts and Music Festival; JRS: School outreach programme; Jesuit Community in Msida: Sunday morning mass; Integra: Dinja Wahda; Integra: Hwawar u fjuri; Peace Lab Hospitality & shelter for immigrants and refugees; Peace Lab School Programme; Balzan Parish: Mother and Baby Club; Malta Microfinance; Spark15; JRS: Communities of Hospitality; St. Andrews International Centre: Language Classes; Knisja Kristjana Evangelika; Third Country National Support Network; aditus: The Life of the Others; President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society: Transculturalism Forum; Malta Emigrants Commission: Nilqgħu L-Barrani; Dar Osanna Pia; MSSP CAM School Awareness Raising 27 The nine initiatives selected for the in-depth qualitative interviews were: MSSP CAM - School Awareness Raising; Integra - Dinja Wahda; Malta Emigrants’ Commission - Nilqghu L-Barrani; Third Country National Support Network; Knisja Kristjana Evanġelika; Communities of Hospitality; Malta Microfinance; Spark15; and Mother and Baby Club - Balzan Parish.
collect comprehensive information about the CBIs and how they carried out their activities, in line with the criteria established by the Delphi experts. The assessment was carried out with nine of the twenty CBIs mapped during the quantitative phase of the research.
For the qualitative interviews, JRS was not always able to conduct the three separate interviews as intended for the data triangulation. This was because not every CBI we interviewed had both staff members and volunteers – a number of initiatives were run solely by volunteers and others by staff only.
Another restriction of the project was that I Get You was not able to provide for translators or interpreters, so this was left to the discretion of JRS, which used its own resources to translate the questionnaires and conduct interviews.
The following is a brief outline of the limitations of this research project:
PROJECT COORDINATOR, THIRD COUNTRY NATIONAL SUPPORT NETWORK
“I think that migrants face a lot of difficulties in society. First of all, you lose your family networks, your welfare, your social networks. You find different kinds of barriers. There is language, social integration, access to education and employment. And these needs, these barriers, tend to be overlooked by governments and other institutions. My interaction with migrants is not just on a professional level: my husband is also from Ghana. I did not properly understand migration until I myself migrated to Belgium in 1997. And I remember the struggles I went through. I had a child who was going to school, and I could not use English to explain myself, because everybody spoke French or Flemish. I had to get help from my neighbours. It was then that I realised what it means to lose everything that is familiar to you. Even on a professional level, it was not possible for me to work in physiotherapy in Belgium. You feel like your status has dropped. And you are like a child starting to learn about your environment again. When I went to Belgium, one of the things that I craved was the Maltese music, Maltese feasts and the fireworks. The interesting thing is that before I had never missed these things.
Services need to be there, individual services, but we should empower the community to start catering for itself. Wherever we go to, we need to make it a home for ourselves, but also contribute to that community and that place. For example, with the Sudanese Migrant Association, there are volunteers who are teaching about the values and the culture of Sudan. But at the same time, they also want integration. They also want the people to learn Maltese and English. So there is a balance between, ‘I have my identity’, ‘I have a cultural identity’, ‘I come from a country and a certain culture, but now I am here, there is also a culture here’. And I really saw this: I visited the place and I met the leaders of the organisation and I saw this willingness to give and take.”
Data Findings 3.1 SUMMARY OF QUANTITATIVE RESULTS FROM MAPPING PHASE The selected CBIs, which are geographically spread across the whole country, offer a wide range of services and activities, varying from language and employment assistance, cultural and social activities, as well as accompaniment. Although the initiatives are to be found all over the island, there is concentration of activities in the centre and north of Malta. The size of the initiatives varies with the smallest being made up of one member of staff and one volunteer, and with the largest functioning with two members of staff and five volunteers. While there is always the presence of one staff member—with the exception of one CBI run entirely on a voluntary basis by members of the refugee community—what is prevalent is the strong presence of volunteers and interns. Having an informal and local set-up, 50% of the organisations utilise a grassroots approach. The rest of the initiatives evaluated rely heavily on foundations and private benefactors to run their programmes. The nationalities of the beneficiaries varied considerably, from Syrians and Libyans who arrived recently, to other nationalities, including Somalis, Eritreans and West Africans, who have already lived in Malta for a number of years. The ages of the refugees and migrants participating in activities and benefiting from the services offered also varied. The findings show that 60% of the initiatives had the 26 to 65 age group as their intended target. Three of the CBIs targeted school children, and one of the twenty initiatives was specifically directed at adolescents and young adults.
Multicultural awareness and intercultural leisure activities were organised by four different organisations. The initiatives sought to celebrate diversity and find common ground between the refugees and the local community, choosing to centre the activities around nature, film, food and music. One CBI, which stood out from the rest, was Spark 15. Spark 15 is made up primarily of youths from the refugee community, having as its primary aim to offer support to, and advocate for, other refugees and migrants. It is evident, from the CBIs evaluated, that in these past years there has been an increase in services and activities related to integration. Throughout most of the CBIs identified, it is clear that essential and basic support related to integration, particularly with regards to language, employment assistance, and cultural adjustment, seem to be covered rather well. Another aspect given priority
Half of the CBIs identified are run by Christian communities and organisations, a result that reflects Malta’s strong religious culture.
Seven of the initiatives offered support related to integration, like language classes, access to education and employment assistance. Three other initiatives chose to accompany migrants and refugees, offering a welcoming space for them to share experiences and common concerns: an informal place, where individuals can talk freely and have their questions answered. Three more initiatives targeted school children from secondary schools across the island. Their objective was to raise awareness about human rights in general, as well as the issues faced by refugees in particular, with importance placed on putting a face to the figures and percentages quoted in the media. Two faith-based communities, with guidance from two long-established organisations working with refugees and migrants, chose to take the concept of hospitality to another level by ‘adopting’ refugee families: this involved including the family members in their daily routines, thus offering an insight into Maltese society, and laying the groundwork for intercultural friendships.
by some of the CBIs mapped is awareness-raising in schools, such as the CAM School AwarenessRaising Programme. 3.2 RESULTS OF THE QUALITATIVE PHASE
What follows is a breakdown of the findings from the qualitative interviews conducted by JRS Malta with participants from nine CBIs. Mostly, we have seen that collaboration between CBIs and forced migrants themselves is imperative to success, as well as to move away from traditional models of service provision. Given Malta’s unique context, we have also witnessed the strength of religious organisations in helping to support forced migrants. Interaction and Encounter Most of the CBIs opened their doors and offered their services very regularly, thus facilitating their own relationships with the forced migrants. Further, regular encounters and flexibility in the support offered helped to build a certain degree of trust. A staff member from one CBI, which offers financial aid to struggling migrants with the aim of helping them live a dignified life and become self-sufficient, noted how, sometimes, migrants who would initially approach the CBI for financial assistance would return seeking advice or information on other issues. On a less positive note, in most of the CBIs, there was very little interaction with the broader local Maltese community. When this did occur, it happened only occasionally, resulting in very few opportunities for the initiation of friendships. CBIs noted that this barrier to interaction has come about as a result of the lack of activities and places where members of the refugee community and the local community can come together naturally. It has been further acknowledged that, rather than creating initiatives and activities exclusively for refugees, it would be more beneficial to include refugees in already-existing initiatives targeted at the local population.
Participation During the interviews, the participation of volunteers in all CBIs interviewed seemed to be instrumental in the successful running of the different services and activities offered. CBIs had a greater impact in the local community because of the energy and dedication that volunteers provided. Most of the volunteers we met described their experience as humbling and
spoke of how they felt they had received more than they had given. Most of the volunteers stressed the importance of training and support, factors which would allow them to better understand their role, and would avoid pitfalls such as getting too emotionally involved or overstepping boundaries. Awareness-Raising and Education Since the CBIs varied in size, structure and financial resources, very few could engage in education and awareness-raising. Those CBIs which prioritised education chose to focus on children and youths, as it was felt that the younger generations would be more responsive and more likely to bring about change. This meant that there was no awareness-raising targeted at the general public, aside from the sharing of experiences of the volunteers within their own families and social circles. Support and Service Provision It emerged through the research that a majority of the CBIs were still focusing on providing basic but essential services directly related to increasing a person’s chances of integrating. This is a reflection of the Maltese context, where the state provides very limited support for integration, and there is still a heavy reliance on civil society to provide basic reception and integration services to forced migrants. This is no doubt due to the lack of a coherent policy on integration and of services to facilitate this process, which many CBIs interviewed attributed to a possible reluctance on the part of the authorities to acknowledge that migrants are here to stay. Once such structures are in place, offering more effective services and support to those who require it, CBIs can focus more energy on inclusion, hospitality and relationship-building. CBIs expressed that, ideally, a charity-based approach should be avoided, adopting instead a strategy where forced migrants are active participants in shaping the goals and activities of the initiatives, in order to establish relationships based on equality rather than on dependency. Such services also included English classes at the Third Country National Support Network, as well as accommodation and holistic support provided by Communities of Hospitality, and employment assistance from Integra – Dinja Waħda. The findings also revealed that none of the CBIs specifically targeted their activities and
initiatives to vulnerable groups, such as single mothers, or young children with a forced migration background. These two groups of the forced migrant population seem to have been somewhat overlooked, despite the need for greater support and services. Although they were not directly excluded, since most initiatives were available to the general refugee and migrant population, there was no focus on their particular needs.
Another major hurdle effecting the success, growth, and continuity of some CBIs, is their reliance on volunteers as an integral part of their services and activities. In spite of the fact that, without them, certain initiatives would be very limited, dependence on volunteers and interns does not allow for long-term planning, due to the lack of consistency and long-term commitment of some volunteers.
For a CBI to achieve maximum impact, a close collaboration between members of the CBI and forced migrants is essential. The ideal scenario would be one where members of the CBI, who are familiar with the local context, and the forced migrants themselves, who know where they came from and what they would like to achieve, come together to work out what type of support is required, in order to find the best way forward.
While CBIs in Malta expressed the importance of interculturalism throughout the interviews, we saw few that were actively fostering this value mainly because of the focus on service provision, and possibly also on account of a slight reluctance to be open to true cultural dialogue. Nevertheless, they acknowledged the ways in which interculturalism seeks to restore social cohesion, trust, and a feeling of belonging. However, at this point in time, because of the demand for basic services and support there is little time or energy left to focus on other things. It is hoped that once people attain some sense of security and independence, they will then be in a better position to dedicate some of their time to understanding the complexities of this new society they are living in, enabling them to begin relations, which may with time lead to friendships. CBIs expressed that they would like to place greater emphasis on interculturalism in the future, in order to embrace and respect aspects of both cultures.
Hospitality and Dignity All the migrants interviewed spoke of how all the CBIs, in one way or another, made them feel welcome and respected, and of how the friendly environment allowed them to be themselves, without the fear of being judged on the basis of their appearance. In turn, both staff members and volunteers of all the CBIs mentioned how they were respectful of, and attentive to, cultural differences. Sustainability and Innovation
During the interviews, many CBIs recognised the importance of organising initiatives and offering support systematically, and over a long period of time, in order to create trust and develop relations, which will in turn help to combat racism and xenophobia. Our research showed that several organisations struggle to secure funding, therefore making it impossible to sustain initiatives in the long term.
Inspiring Community Building Initiatives 4 18
The next section will highlight the CBIs considered to be best practices, when weighted against the established criteria. INTEGRA – DINJA WAĦDA Integra’s Dinja Waħda drop-in centre offers much more than the basic and essential services of language and employment support, indispensable for independence and self-reliance. The community centre, operating with very little funds and relying mainly on interns and volunteers, provides a friendly environment where everyone is welcome. Apart from activities such as film nights, food festivals and visits around the island, the centre also organises group discussions on varying topics, giving importance to people’s identities, and allowing them the space to remember, and share, who they are and where they come from.
INSPIRING COMMUNITY BUILDING INITIATIVES
What is striking about this initiative is that dedication and creativity operate at the heart of it. The centre and its volunteers provide the much-needed space for forced migrants to be themselves, whilst at the same time supporting them to gradually adapt to, and learn about, the new country they will one day hopefully call home. “It has been an anchor for me and has given me a place from which to grow and be happy in Malta,” a refugee, who frequents the centre regularly, had to say about the CBI. The initiatives offered by the Dinja Waħda centre can also be considered innovative in the way they foster interaction and encounter, because the safe space they offer to refugees and migrants is not a common occurrence in Malta. THIRD COUNTRY NATIONAL SUPPORT NETWORK (TSN) Third Country National Support Network (TSN) values individual participation and contribution very highly, with all the participants of the CBI coming from a migration background. This CBI
is the first national network of third country national organisations working for the welfare and integration of third country nationals in Malta. TSN’s focus on empowering different migrant communities is a valuable strength because it equips people with tools to help them feel more included in society, in order to actively and positively contribute. TSN Malta believes that there is no one better than the migrant communities to advocate for equal rights and opportunities for themselves and their members. It is for this reason that it committed to a twelvemonth programme, where the focus was to bring together members from sixteen different refugee and migrant organisations. The overall aim of the initiative is to enable the migrant communities to further develop their skills as trainers and peacebuilders. This is achieved through weekly sessions focusing on education, social tools, volunteering, conflict resolution and strategic planning. The value and reach of this CBI are immeasurable, in that all the participants have the potential to eventually become trainers themselves, and in turn offer support and guidance to the other members of their community. In the words of one of the Sudanese community leaders, “TSN is unique, as it allows the members to continue to bring their problems to the group, where they discuss, share ideas and solve problems together.” An immediate and tangible outcome of the mentoring and capacity-building initiatives was the creation of the Sudanese Migrant Association. The support of the CBI was instrumental in providing the Sudanese community with the backing they required to establish their very own organisation. COMMUNITIES OF HOSPITALITY Communities of Hospitality is a JRS Malta initiative, where local faith-based communities are encouraged to take up the invitation to make hospitality an integral part of their lives, as individuals and as communities, by welcoming
Heidi (L) teaches English to forced migrants as part of a CBI in Malta. (Still taken from the Maltese I Get You video: Denis Bosnic / JRS Europe)
forced migrants. The initiative complements existing JRS projects focusing on promoting integration through advocacy, service provision and support to access services. The different faith-based communities volunteer their time to support and accompany forced migrant families, under the guidance of JRS Malta. The Maltese volunteers offer assistance with different issues related to integration: some offer assistance with school work, while others focus on familiarising the migrants with the Maltese way of life. Different groups of volunteers opened their homes to forced migrant families, making them feel at home. These welcoming and friendly encounters have given the migrants a sense of belonging, and have created the basis for new friendships.
SPARK 15 The initiative undertaken by Spark 15, a small, recently founded youth refugee organization, is as necessary as it is innovative. Having, as one of its objectives, to encourage other young refugees to become active participants and agents of inclusive societies, this group of young refugees from Eritrea, Palestine, Somalia and Libya, is the first of its kind in Malta. “We named ourselves ‘Spark 15’ because we are a small idea that can become big,” said the president, Hourie Tafech. Dedicating their free time to advocating for refugee integration in Malta, the members of Spark 15 believe that education and employment are key elements in enabling the social inclusion of refugees in Malta. Mohammed Hassan, one of the founding members, is confident that Spark 15 has the right motivation and insight necessary to encourage dialogue between refugees and local youth. “It cannot be done through traditional and formal ways, but by organising events, music
INSPIRING COMMUNITY BUILDING INITIATIVES
Jacqueline, a volunteer involved, described her motivation for participating: “It was time to reach out beyond my immediate world and into the wider community.” Although very little was done in terms of education and awareness-raising, aside from the training with the volunteers directly involved, a certain level of insight of the hardships faced by forced migrants was conveyed in small ways, through the volunteers’ conversations with family and friends. Communities of Hospitality was evaluated as one of the top CBIs, because this initiative goes beyond solely providing assistance and services to people, and allows forced migrants
and locals the time and space to get to know one another in a familiar setting. The ongoing support and training provided to the volunteers also helps to strengthen the relationship between staff and the volunteers, thereby increasing the likelihood of longer-term commitment on the part of the volunteers.
sessions and sports activities, which will attract members from different communities, to be and work together,” he explains. While not a community building initiative in a strict sense, Spark 15 is considered to be a promising practice with great potential, as it is made up of refugees themselves, who, speaking from first-hand experiences, are taking control of their future, and laying the foundations to rebuilding their lives, whilst also serving as a source of inspiration and hope to the refugee community in general. CENTRE FOR MISSIONARY ANIMATION (CAM): SCHOOL AWARENESS-RAISING PROGRAMME A faith-based organisation, CAM School Awareness-Raising Programme invests time and energy in reaching out to young people, with the aim of creating a counter narrative to the discourse of invasion and loss of identity, put forward by some media and politicians. A total of forty seminars, reaching between 2,000 to 3,000 fifteen-year olds, were organised throughout the scholastic year. More often than not, the seminars
would have been the first time that most of the students present would have had the opportunity to listen to, and interact with, a refugee. This enriching opportunity to share the same space, and learn about the refugee’s traditions and culture, as well as their hopes and fears, helps to dispel the labels and the stereotypes, stressing the reality that we are all human. The coordinator of the programme believes so strongly in the value and impact of such an initiative that, even without secured funds, he is determined to continue the activities next scholastic year. According to Sunday, a refugee from Nigeria participating in the initiative, “young people are the most effective way to affect the community long-term”. With its emphasis on encounter, participation and raising awareness, the CAM School Awareness Raising Programme, has been identified as another promising practice – while also not strictly a defined CBI. This is because it is fundamental in dispelling the fear and the misconceptions, which are considered to be among some of the most challenging obstacles to social inclusion.
INSPIRING COMMUNITY BUILDING INITIATIVES
Mohammed from Mali and Father Mintoff pose at the Peace Lab initiative. (I Get You / JRS Malta)
Policy Recommendations The research conducted by I Get You shows that the majority of the CBIs in Malta focus on providing basic but essential services directly related to increasing a person’s chances of integrating, such as the provision of English classes and employment support. However, NGOs and civil society organisations do not possess the resources and the capacity to plan and implement systematic and long-term integration programmes on a national level for refugees and forced migrants. JRS Malta believes that such tasks fall under the responsibility of the government, further including the responsibility for the successful integration and acceptance of forced migrants by the local population. Only when the government takes up these responsibilities will CBIs be able to shift their focus to other activities, including a greater emphasis on proper community-building, encounter and interculturalism. The outcome of I Get You shows that with adequate support and awareness-raising programmes, the refugee and the local population can better understand each other, thereby creating a richer society, where everyone’s rights are truly respected. In order to progress in this direction and based on the experience of I Get You, JRS Malta has elaborated a set of recommendations for the Maltese government.
From our research it is clear that civil society in Malta provides a number of very basic, essential services for migrants, many of which are not available elsewhere. Our interviews with NGOs highlighted the fragility of the sector, which is made up largely of relatively small organisations with very limited resources. The NGOs interviewed also made clear that civil society
In order for civil society to be able to carry on offering long-term support, as well as for the recently founded and small organisations to further extend their initiatives in order to effect change, there needs to be continued commitment by the Government to support civil society in practical ways, not only by providing funding opportunities but also by providing space from which organisations can operate. • Collaborate with and provide assistance to the growing number of migrant-led organisations, in order to better understand their needs and those of the populations they represent Nobody is in a better position than refugees and migrants to advocate for the improvement of services and equal access to rights, as these issues impact them directly. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of migrant-led organisations. This increase is significant because it indicates a growing sense of empowerment and commitment to integration, as well as a willingness to share responsibility for and ownership of the integration process. Spark 15, is a clear example of this. We believe that such organisations provide an invaluable contribution to our community and they should not only be su pported but also involved in the development and implementation of integration policies. Initiatives such as Third Country National Support Network, a project run by the Foundation for Shelter & Support to Migrants (FSM) which focused on empowering and building the capacity of migrant-led organisations, is an example of good practice that can be used as a model for future initiatives.
• Support Civil Society Organisations, both financially to ensure sustainability and continuity, as well by providing physical spaces from where to operate
can only provide the services and support it does because of the countless hours of voluntary service provided by migrants and citizens alike within these organisations.
• Develop intercultural education programmes for service providers and community leaders
The findings of our research indicate that interaction between refugees and the local community remain limited, often restricted to relatively superficial interactions, in shops or on the bus, or within the context of a helping relationship. This distance fuels misconceptions and prejudice, which pushes migrants and the host community further apart causing problems at community level. The organisation of intercultural education programmes for mainstream service providers, local councils, parishes or other community organisations, as well as migrant community leaders, would help to facilitate communication and foster understanding between different communities living within a given locality. Such programmes would not only give people the competence to relate to others who are different to themselves, but also serve to provide spaces for mutual encounter where ‘the other’ presents an opportunity to learn, rather than a threat. • Mainstream issues such as cultural diversity and human rights, by including them in the national curriculum
Our research shows that there is still a severe lack of knowledge in the Maltese society about who refugees are and why they had to flee their countries. This feeds the perception of being ‘invaded’ by migrants, and leads to xenophobia and racism. Local communities must be educated about ethnic minorities and their culture and learn how to value what we have in common instead of stopping at the differences. Awareness-raising programmes for young people, such as the CAM School AwarenessRaising Programme, are good practices that the government should build on. However it is important that issues such as diversity and human rights are not discussed only at events organized sporadically by external actors, but become an integral part of the national curriculum and part of the daily lives of our schools. • Provide training to refugees and forced migrants on their rights, as well as their obligations
Integration, is a complex two-way process which, apart from requiring understanding of and respect for refugees’ cultural background and personal experiences, also necessitates the adoption of some of the core values of the local population, in order to live together in a society where everyone’s rights are respected and where everyone feels at home. To date little effort has been made to set up comprehensive and systematic programmes to provide information to refugees and forced migrants on their rights and obligations, thus facilitating their integration into our communities. Most initiatives conducted have been organised by NGOs or by the state as part of specific projects, and have therefore been limited in duration, scope and/or reach on account of the lack of resources. It is essential that such training is provided through sustained and well-resourced programmes, which are accessible not just to refugees, but ideally to all migrants who are living and working in Malta. • Encourage and support local councils which are generally accessible to, and in direct contact with, refugees and migrants, to invest in projects involving sport, art and culture, where citizens and refugees can come together As was highlighted earlier, the findings of our research confirm that there is a relatively low level of interaction and encounter between refugees and Maltese people. Beyond the day-to-day interactions at work and with the next door neighbour, engagement with Maltese social and cultural life is extremely limited. Because they are firmly embedded within local communities, local councils have an intimate knowledge of the needs within specific localities and they are excellently placed to work on strengthening community relations. A number of local councils have already taken the initiative of organising one-off events highlighting and celebrating the cultural diversity within their localities as part of their annual calendar. While these activities are promising there is a need for initiatives offering more sustained opportunities for mutual encounter. Some Initiatives organised by migrant-led and migrant-assisting NGOs, such as Integra’s Dinja Wahda, Communities of Hospitality and Spark
15, which try to create spaces of encounter, rather than just sporadic activities, can provide a model for activities by local councils. • Adopt and effectively implement a National Migrant Integration Strategy, which provides concrete and realistic access to durable solutions such as long-term residence and citizenship Our interviews with civil society organisations underlined the need for a coherent and holistic strategy on integration. While the launch of the migrant integration strategy and action plan is a welcome development, it is clear that what is required is not just the adoption of an integration policy, but also the creation of services, systems and mechanisms in order to ensure its effective implementation in practice.
As evidenced in the report, most incidents of discrimination go unreported, as victims of abuse have no trust in the authorities’ capacity to provide effective redress. While education/information campaigns among both citizens and migrants and investment in community-building activities will hopefully go some way towards preventing, or at least significantly reducing, instances of discrimination, it is important to ensure effective access to justice in cases where individuals experience a breach of their rights. The creation of strong, independent and adequately resourced institutions capable of providing timely and effective redress is essential to ensure that the rights of all, especially the most vulnerable, are safeguarded.
Our research highlighted that in practice refugees are often unable to access their rights and they are forced to rely on NGOs for a number of essential services, such as information about their rights and the services available to them, and language acquisition. In order for real integration to take place, refugees and forced migrants must be able to access their rights without unnecessary delays. This necessitates a clear understanding across all government departments of their rights and entitlements, which is only possible if there is a clear national strategy.
• Set up a strong, independent and adequately resourced Human Rights and Equality Commission, capable of providing effective redress in case where individuals experience discrimination or where their rights are breached, in order to ensure people’s rights are truly safeguarded, and trust in institutions is restored
Beyond the immediate need of effective access to rights, a sense of security for their future and that of their children is also fundamental in order for refugees and forced migrants to become a full and active members of society. This requires that they are provided with concrete possibilities to truly belong - the possibility to move from a temporary to a more permanent status, such a long-term residence, and beyond, to real possibility that they may one day be citizens and full members of our community.
Guidelines for Best Practices for Community Building Initiatives 6 24
If you have been inspired by what you have seen and want to start a CBI of your own, I Get You has identified the following guidelines as good practices: 6.1.1 Before you start:
GUIDELINES FOR BEST PRACTICES FOR COMMUNITY BUILDING INITIATIVES
• Interpret the local context and its needs before beginning a CBI: The activities and services provided by CBIs, as well as the beneficiaries they intend to target, must be meaningful and tailored to the needs of the local context. A needs assessment of the local community and population should be conducted before starting a new CBI. While responding to contextual challenges can be particularly difficult at times, creativity and innovative approaches can be incorporated into the design to counteract these challenges. • Find a niche that is not currently being provided for: There are many initiatives and organisations out there that are providing services to forced migrants and other vulnerable groups. The key is to find where you could fit in to the variety of projects, activities and practices out there. This might be in the type of service you provide or in the target group of your beneficiaries. Examples of such niches I Get You has encountered are vocational training for young migrants in Spain who have aged out of state protection services and accommodation schemes for unreturnable forced migrants in Belgium. • Go beyond service provision to focus on interaction between people and relationship building: The hallmark of all CBIs is that they foster social bonds between people because having social relations and living in a community is a need in itself. To build a genuine CBI, the initiative must be founded on the criteria of the interaction and encounter between local citizens and forced migrants and provide plenty of opportunities for these encounters to take place.
Some CBIs have found that this is achieved by removing labels from the participants, such as beneficiaries or volunteers, while others have found simply providing people with the space to have a chat and get to know each other is enough for friendships to form. (Of course, throwing a party also helps!) • Build CBI with the values of flexibility and adaptability at the foundation: Because CBIs are usually grassroots initiatives that are small in scale, their existence is dependent on a number of factors that go beyond what they intend to do. Questions of changing context, funding structure and civil society will all play a role in what and how the CBI goes about its work. If initiatives are flexible and adaptable from the start, making changes to get things right will be smoother to get right and implement. Being flexible was especially relevant for CBIs in a country like Croatia, where the context of forced migrants has shifted in the last few years from a country of transit along the migration route to other European countries to now a country that is working to welcome and integrate people who have applied for asylum. • Operate as part of broader networks: CBIs should complement existing structures while working to fill the gaps that such structures have not yet taken care of. Partnerships or collaboration should be established where possible with existing networks such as local authorities, NGOs, schools, universities or parishes. CBIs that are just starting out were able to be more successful when linked with these pre-established stakeholders of community life, with many CBIs able to branch out on their own after a few months or years. When thinking about creatively connecting to networks, a CBI might link itself to existing self-organised refugee initiatives in order to complement the work and strengthen their capacity. Here, there are also two levels:
• A network of people who contribute to one another’s social networks and strengthen community ties, such as neighbours, families, co-workers and peers, such as the collective mobilization of community members in the CBI Syrimont in Belgium. • A network of structures that is well coordinated to manage the overlapping and complimentary needs of the people it serves, best practice examples include the PAR structure in Portugal and Comprendre Pour Apprendre’s web based platform in France that provides language support but also links one to opportunities for higher education, training and cultural information through a network of universities, research institutes and administrative services. 6.1.2 Keeping People at the Heart: • Encourage the active participation of forced migrants through outreach: In order for a forced migrant to be aware of the services and activities offered by a CBI, they need to be targeted by outreach strategies for membership. Seek help with outreach from other organisations already working with forced migrants, such as national social service providers or non-profit organisations active in reception procedures for asylum seekers. Develop a relationship with these organisations that can refer migrants to your CBI and get them involved from the start of their stay in Europe.
• Think about alternative ways to involve forced migrants in CBIs: CBIs work better when there is reciprocity in the relationship, when the distinction between beneficiaries and helpers is as minimal as possible. Encouraging forced migrants to act as volunteers in CBIs works best to uphold people’s dignity and helps to overcome difficult transitional periods to a new place. Some CBI even organise volunteering programs specifically for forced migrants to help, contribute positively, and build-up work experience and networks. Examples include an archaeological dig in Italy with Consorzio Solidalia and the University of Palermo, a bicycle repair shop in Croatia, or a project in Portugal were migrants give tours in the city of Lisbon.
• Give forced migrants a platform to use their voice for things that are important for them: CBIs should create spaces for open and honest dialogues within their initiatives. A place where there is freedom to share and debate ideas, lets people know what is really on the minds of others. Such conversations can then be taken to broader public debate or used as advocacy and awareness raising strategies by the CBI to work towards creating a more positive discourse around issues facing forced migrants by leveraging the voices and experience of people directly involved in CBIs. • Target the initiative to be open to including other vulnerable or marginalised groups: Having a broad number of focus groups served by CBIs, and not just including forced migrants or refugees, breaks down stereotypes or prejudice within communities and promotes equity of service provision among members of communities. While some needs are unique depending on an individual’s profile, the work of CBIs - that is creating inclusive communities where people feel welcomed - is something that is needed by many people and not just those who fit certain criteria. I Get You has seen initiatives, such as the Competence Centre for Integration in Germany and Autremonde in France that complimentarily target other groups such as socially isolated individuals or people at risk of poverty, help to encourage all to become agents of change in their own lives.
GUIDELINES FOR BEST PRACTICES FOR COMMUNITY BUILDING INITIATIVES
• Promote membership and leadership of forced migrants within CBIs: It is important to promote migrants as active members of CBIs, not only as service recipients. Migrants should be engaged in the design, implementation and evaluation of initiatives as well as take responsibilities related to the organisational aspects of CBIs. I Get You has seen positive results in CBIs that are run and organised by refugees themselves as well as those that utilise a train the trainer model; whereby forced migrants who were former beneficiaries of CBIs now act as language teachers, cultural mediators or coaches for other newly arrived people to the initiative. This is important not only because forced migrants are the best placed to determine what their own needs are from CBIs, but also because it demonstrates the false nature of the paradigm that migrants are overly dependent on aid but have much to offer local communities. For an example of a self-
organised refugee initiative, see the Sudanese Migrant Association in Malta and how they are providing newcomers with a variety of useful tools and skills.
GUIDELINES FOR BEST PRACTICES FOR COMMUNITY BUILDING INITIATIVES
• Clearly define the role of and set boundaries for volunteers: The role and the limits of each volunteer involved in a CBI should be well established and communicated about between the volunteer and the CBI coordinators. Some CBIs in Belgium have also found that work descriptions and volunteer codes of conduct are useful resources for organisers and volunteers alike. Defining levels of commitment should be set according to the nature of the CBI. In cases where volunteers are very engaged, such as those that involve hosting forced migrants in their homes, this becomes especially important to lay out what is expected from volunteers as well as what is not expected and to manage these expectations appropriately and set boundaries. • Institutionalise recruitment, selection, training and supervision of volunteers: A hallmark and huge added value of all CBIs I Get You has come across has been the contribution of local volunteers. Therefore, matching the skills, experience and profile of the volunteer to the correct initiative, role and responsibilities is crucial. To attract and retain qualified volunteers CBIs should set-up a screening process for potential volunteers and be ready to not accept everyone who might like to take part. Next, selected volunteers should be trained in the mission and ways of working of the CBI as well as in the tasks and functions that they will need to carry out. Then, over the course of volunteers’ time with the CBI, they should be provided with either one-on-one supervision with a qualified member of the CBI coordination team or a model of group supervision and reflection could work well. If through this process, some volunteers emerge as not the right fit for collaborating with the CBI, be ready to point them in the direction of other initiatives that may be more suitable fits to avoid disappointments and to redirect their energy into the most productive places. Such continuity will contribute to the professionalization of the CBI and benefit all involved. The specific type of training that volunteers receive depends largely on the activities offered by the CBI, but topics could include: • Developing cultural competency • Engaging in interfaith dialogue • Standardise curriculum for teaching or tutoring language learning • Understanding the legal reality of refugees
• Developing self-awareness and emotional resilience to prevent burn-out 6.1.3 Organising the Activities: • Aim to empower forced migrants to be autonomous: CBIs should orient all assistance or service that they provide to enable forced migrants to create for themselves a dignified life in Europe. This is achieved through the mentorship models, capacity and skills training opportunities, and activities that encourage forced migrants in more ambitious ventures such as speaking up through advocacy or engaging in social enterprises or entrepreneurial activities. CBIs like Taste of Home in Croatia achieve this with their goal of financially empowering migrants by involving them in their social business. • Set-up regularly recurring meetings in a physical space: The most successful CBIs carry out weekly meetings between participants and provide a physical space, such as a community centre, sports field, or office where people can get together. These measures also help people to feel that they belong to a part of something, that their commitment matters and that the initiative is sustainable. • Create a mentorship structure within the CBI: People learn from and rely on one another and CBIs that promote networking and social capital for both locals and forced migrants. Models such as duos, buddies or one to one coaching work best for things like helping newcomers become acquainted with the housing market, job search or applying for training programs because they pair the desire of the newcomer to learn about local structures and be involved with the know-how of a local. An example here is the mentoring of the CBI Kodiko to facilitate access to the labour market for forced migrant job-seekers in France. • Include some low-threshold activities in the CBI: Low-threshold activities are those that require minimal commitment from participants. To make people feel more comfortable, or to accommodate people with busy schedules but would still like to be involved, host a few lowthreshold events, services or activities a few times per month. While I Get You believes that participants of CBIs should be engaged and committed, such activities could act as a tester for those who are more sceptical of joining or
are unsure of the time commitment they could offer to initially take part and then judge the level of participation they are willing to take up. • Engage in awareness raising activities: Disseminate the good work that your CBI is doing to a broader audience, this will help to raise awareness among the general public about issues faced by forced migrants in a transparent way. Awareness raising strategies work best when human stories are the focus, such as direct testimonies from migrants or locals. If you have more resources, social media activity, articles, videos and communication campaigns can all be used to spread messages about your CBI, your mission and your work. Activities can have a broad or a narrow scale to suit the size and capacities of your CBI, but make sure that you do something to share your story.
for a Job got off the ground with the first use of social impact bonds in Belgium. • Conduct monitoring and evaluation for activities: Even though CBIs are usually small and oftentimes have limited or stretched resources, channelling energy in certain activities that help the overall organisational structure go a long way to future growth or strategic professionalization down the road. Engaging in monitoring and evaluation helps organisers to understand the impact the CBI is having on the people involved and assess if there are areas to be addressed or adapted. Regular monitoring and evaluation processes of the activities of a CBI will also serve to compliment defining the roles and regular supervision of the volunteers.
• Engage with local authorities and policymakers to share experiences: CBIs working on the ground should act as a link between what is going on at the local level in their communities and with those responsible for decision making. Engagement between CBIs and local authorities and policymakers can improve local implementation of policies and open pathways for further collaborations. If CBIs have the capacity to engage in such activities, they will be able to share experience, concerns and recommendations more easily with local policymakers.
GUIDELINES FOR BEST PRACTICES FOR COMMUNITY BUILDING INITIATIVES
• Explore diverse funding opportunities and schemes: Financial health and well-being is important for sustainability. Keep in mind all funding possibilities: public funds, government contracts, private foundations, individual donors, fundraising campaigns and socially conscious businesses with corporate giving programmes. While partnering with the state and local authorities for funding is important for sustainability, other streams for funding should be explored to keep the CBI balanced. I Get You has seen that there is a unique place for innovative and grassroots funding schemes within CBIs because they leverage the local nature of the structure. Being creative in the way that the CBI raises funds is a way that allows for necessary flexibility in changing contexts because it eliminates restrictions often placed on funds by private or public funds. CBIs that used crowd funding or microfinancing grants are growing in their reach. Duo
Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organisation with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and others who are forcibly displaced. jrsmalta.org