Cultural Orientation for Resettlement Refugees
Since the 1950s, IOM has been conducting training for migrants and over the last 60 years has developed a tailored approach to migrant training that takes into consideration the specific needs of migrants and the receiving country. Over the 2001-2014 period, some 500,000 migrants directly benefitted from IOM's migrant training in over 50 countries, with significant activity in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East/North Africa. Approximately 70 per cent of the participants during this period were resettlement-related.
IOM Helsinki currently provides cultural orientation for quota refugees for Finland and Iceland. The Finnish Cultural Orientation (FINCO) project is implemented in cooperation with the Diaconia University of Applied Science and relevant field-based IOM offices. The project receives funding from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and is coordinated by the Finnish Immigration Service. The Icelandic Cultural Orientation (ICECO) project is implemented by the IOM and funded by the Ministry of Welfare in Iceland.
IOM assists States by reducing the overall cost of supporting new arrivals by better preparing migrants prior to their arrival and facilitates integration by reducing dependence on post-arrival services. Pre-departure orientation helps migrants better navigate their initial period of resettlement. It also helps them manage and foster realistic expectations; empowers them through facilitating the acquisition of skills, and finally provides a forum in which to ask questions, express their fears and concerns, so as to be better equipped to deal with cultural adaptation and change.
IOM's training methodology recognizes an interactive, learner- and family-centred approach while also taking into account different learning styles. The primary goal of any training is to encourage participation and to strive to empower participants through creating meaningful and experiential learning opportunities. The methodology is participatory and interactive, and relies on a host of approaches designed to engage and empower refugees. Included are role-playing, video presentations, simulations, discussions, small group activities and more.
The goal of the cultural orientation training is to enhance the refugee’s understanding of the resettlement process and services, including the journey to their new home country; to provide basic information on the refugees’ country of destination; and to equip the refugees with the necessary tools, including skills and attitudes, for positively navigating the first few months of their integration.
The topics of particular concern for refugees may include finding employment, understanding one’s rights and obligations, gaining access to education for their children, being equipped to handle financial/money management, being informed about the types of post-arrival resettlement services, to mention just a few concrete examples. Equally important is addressing cultural adaptation and culture shock noting that each and every refugee and vulnerable refugee group brings his or her own experiences, including those with special needs, and may require particular attention.