REFUGEE COUNCIL MONTHLY REPORT No.2
Monthly meeting of the Refugee Council members took place online. During the meeting it was discussed the recent activities of organization and the future plans, events. Moreover, it was introduced the structural changes in the organization. Next month the President of the Refugee Council will be elected by the members of the Council. President will be responsible for organizing the meetings and their program. On 20th of June, on the occasion of Refugee Day, the organization participated in the event initiated by the Arts Agency Artscape, where the Refugee Council had the opportunity to present its ideas, goals and attract new members to join the organization. During the monthly meeting the partners’ programs like “Refugees in Business”, children’s summer camps were presented. It was introduced for the board members the possibility to provide recommendations for planning of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. Recommendations were presented to the Ministry. The proposals focused on the integration challenges faced by refugees granted asylum in Lithuania and included the guidance of what measures could facilitate the integration process. Big attention was paid for learning process of refugee children. Also, during the meeting, the project “Community Bridges” together with the partners “Art Agency Artscape”, “Caritas Foreigners’ Integration Program” funded by Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund was presented. The Refugee Council has the opportunity to develop and implement a training program about refugees’ rights and cultural diversity. For this reason, the issues and challenges related to the cultural differences and refugee rights that board members see in the communities in Lithuania were discussed during the monthly meeting.
Arriving in a little-known country with refugee status is a huge challenge, especially for children who need to adapt quickly. In a small country like Lithuania, it is very important to learn the local language, understand and adapt to the cultural differences in order to successfully integrate in the country. Knowledge of Lithuanian language facilitates the search of work which is extremely difficult for foreigners granted asylum in Lithuania due to still prevailing stereotypes and cultural differences. Lack of knowledge of Lithuanian language makes refugees more dependent on social workers and complicates integration. Knowledge of the local language facilitates the search for housing and a working place, contributes to the finding of new contacts and the creation of a social circle. The poor quality of lessons makes language learning more difficult. Organizations should ensure the quality of lessons by using services of qualified professionals and include universities and language centers. It is necessary to emphasize that Lithuanian language is difficult to learn which makes it a challenge for foreigners. In order to facilitate the integration of refugees in Lithuania, great attention should be paid to Lithuanian language lessons, as language skills open up greater opportunities and facilitate adaptation to the new culture. Lithuanian language lessons should be more intensive and ensure high quality. Another suggestion worth consideration is to increase financial support for refugees until a certain level of proficiency in the Lithuanian language is acquired and reached. In this way, more attention and motivation could be devoted for learning the local language as currently refugees are struggling to combine language lessons with job demands and timetables. Furthermore, refugees could be integrated into society by volunteering, which would contribute to faster language learning through real-life situations, and the local community would benefit from volunteering as well. Refugees face many challenges in the host country and one of them is the language barrier. Knowledge of the local language would facilitate the integration process and provide more employment opportunities, facilitate the search for housing rent, contribute to social integration and new contacts finding.