Small towns and municipalities are at the forefront of refugee resettlement and integration in Europe today. A new video series shows how people from different backgrounds are able to live together, enriching each others’ lives along the way.
“Coexistence and togetherness are enriching for both sides. After the arrival of these people, the town became much more vibrant, more diverse.” These are the words of Josef Radinger, a volunteer with ‘The Land of People’ community group, who lives in Gänserndorf, Austria, one of several small towns across Europe that is helping resettle refugees.
Mr Radinger’s delight is clearly matched by that of the refugees themselves, who have begun to live normal lives once again. Hasan, 29, is from Syria and is keen to stress how the people “were nice and friendly and they’ve done a lot for us.” He has repaid this welcome by conducting an internship at a hospital in the town, having qualified in Russia. His younger sister, Ferial, 15, simply says “I feel at home in Gänserndorf.”
Gänserndorf features in a new series of short films called SHARE Welcoming Communities “Small Places, Great Hearts.” The videos highlight refugee resettlement and integration in smaller municipalities across Europe, demonstrating the positive impact that refugees have in their new home towns.
With the European Union committed to resettling 50,000 refugees by the end of October 2019, several organizations who work with refugees and migrants have banded together in the SHARE Integration network.
Led by the International Catholic Migration Commission, SHARE Integration works with small cities, towns and villages that have committed to offering protection and welcome for resettled and relocated refugees in Europe.
SHARE partners Caritas Austria, Caritas International, Consorzio Communitas, the Dutch Council for Refugees, MigrAfrica, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Portugal and JRS Romania are leading on the creation of videos in consultation with municipalities, local NGOs, refugees and volunteers.
The videos portray daily life and refugee service-delivery in small communities, cities and towns with populations of less than 150,000. They highlight the successes of local people and organizations engaged in implementing integration practices and advocating for refugees.
These communities use their own experiences to promote, celebrate and highlight the benefits of receiving refugees – not only for refugees themselves, but also for host communities. The videos also allow communities a voice to present themselves directly to soon-to-arrive and newly-arrived refugees as well as to other stakeholders involved in refugee resettlement.
In addition to interviews with previously resettled refugees and those working with them, the SHARE Welcoming Communities video series also contextualizes these voices by filming relevant celebrations, events or initiatives taking place at the local level in Europe.
The video series will be launched in an online webinar on 19 June, ahead of World Refugee Day. Representatives of communities and refugees together with SHARE Integration partner organizations will discuss successful integration and its benefits.
More videos are currently being created in Merchtem (Belgium), Jena (Germany), Biella (Italy), Zaanstad (The Netherlands), Caranguejeira (Portugal) and Somcuta Mare (Romania).