Introduction Introduction Chapter 5 Chapter 5
Chapter 1 Chapter 1 Notes for Indicators Notes
Chapter 2 Chapter 2 Noties for quotations Notes for quotations
Chapter 3 Chapter 3 Notes for boxes Notes for boxes
Chapter 4 Chapter 4 Indicators Indicators
CHAPTER 4 Printer Friendly printer friendly version
Chapter 1 By Force, Not by Choice:
Refugee Women and Asylum-Seekers

Expanded Protections and Recognition

Violence Against Women and Girls

Reproductive Health, Including HIV Prevention

Repatriation, Integration and Resettlement

Repatriation, Integration and Resettlement

Refugees usually have three "durable solutions" available to them: voluntary repatriation to their country of origin; local integration in the country of asylum; or resettling in a third country.(62) As mentioned before, however, many refugees end up living in camps for many years, with limited prospects of securing any of the aforementioned solutions.

International organizations, notably UNHCR and IOM, coordinate repatriation and offer medical services. They also accompany the most vulnerable refugees. Host governments often favour repatriation and overlook the possibility of local integration owing to restrictions on the numbers of refugees-even though it offers a practical short- and long-term solution. This is especially the case where prolonged instability in countries of origin make it impossible to return.(63) Papua New Guinea-along with Belize, Mexico and Uganda-are among the few exceptions.(64) In 2005, Papua New Guinea granted 184 refugees from Indonesia residency permits only one year after their arrival. Furthermore, the Government made permits available to both men and women in an explicit recognition of equal rights and its commitment to gender equality.(65)

While for many years only a few countries offered refugees the option of resettling to a third country, more are now providing this alternative.(66) Today, UNHCR is attempting to prioritize female-headed households and victims of gender-based violence.(67) In 2004, the Guinea office of UNHCR made a special attempt to include more women when it submitted 2,500 names to the US Refugee Program.(68) Brazil has also started welcoming more female-headed families. Upon arrival, they are offered language courses, job training, employment assistance, microcredit, and childcare.(69)

Facilitating the social, cultural and economic integration of refugee women, however, can be challenging. Many female refugees are weighted down with domestic duties and childcare. Male family members may object when women work outside the home. Isolation and lack of familiarity with the host society can lead to depression. To address this need, the Canadian Council for Refugees holds weekly group meetings for women refugees and provides childcare during the sessions. Organizers encourage women to lean on each other for mutual support and become more independent.(70)

Immigrant-to-immigrant programmes can be especially helpful for new arrivals. In Australia, women immigrants from the Cook Islands are reaching out to newly arrived refugees from the Horn of Africa.(71) Elsewhere, various efforts are now under way to expand access to health care and to overcome the sociocultural and linguistic barriers that can keep many from seeking services. In Canada, where efforts are ongoing to integrate refugees into the existing health-care system, more experienced former refugee women are assisting newcomers to access health, social and education assistance.(72) In Austria, the Omega Health Care Center provides psychological and social counselling, as well as medical care, to refugees and other victims of torture, with attention to gender issues.(73) In the US, the non-profit organization RAINBO works with refugee communities to raise awareness of sexual and reproductive health concerns, with an emphasis on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). It also works with health providers to improve quality of care for women who have undergone the practice.(74)

Despite progress, challenges remain, much as they do for migrant women generally. This reflects the situation in many host countries-mixed progress, and significant gaps between policy and implementation.


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