OECD, UN refugee agency chiefs call for better integration in Europe

The heads of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) called Thursday for better integration of asylum seekers in Europe.

"These are challenging days when so many people are in need of international protection," said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria. "Stronger action is necessary to support effective integration of refugees and their children."

Gurria said the biggest migration flow Europe has experienced since World War II represents a humanitarian crisis. But he added that immigrants, on balance, receive less in public benefits than they contribute.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that, while governments had to examine the roots causes of displacement, such as conflict and human rights violation, integrating newly arrived refugees was one of the most effective ways to protect them.

"The political context is very, very complicated here in Europe," Grandi admitted, adding that a plan to redistribute asylum seekers throughout the bloc would help.

"We are urging Europe to fulfil its commitment to implement its own decision which would make this flow from scary to acceptable," he added.

Gurria encouraged European countries to up short-term investments to build capacity for faster integration, including: language courses; access to schools in languages spoken by refugees before instruction in local languages; recognition of skills attained by refugees with higher education; and training and settlement in areas where jobs existed.

"Our analysis demonstrates the benefits that well-managed migration can bring to the economies and societies of OECD countries," Gurria said. "The earlier refugees get the required support, the better their integration prospects."

Last update: Thu, 28/01/2016 - 17:32

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