In March 2016, the European Union signed an agreement with Turkey to reduce the number of refugees arriving in Greece and heading to other parts of Europe. Because of this, thousands of refugees and migrants are stuck in Greek refugee camps all over the country, facing huge difficulties to process their application for international protection in Europe. About 39 Migrants and refugees are continuing to land in Greek islands each day (p.7), where they end up living in very poor, “detention-like” conditions. Of the 13,200 asylum seekers on the islands, more than 5,000 are children. 

The report  “A TIDE OF SELF-HARM AND DEPRESSION: The EU-Turkey Deal’s devastating impact on child refugees and migrants” goes on to discuss the physical and psychological effects these living conditions have on children, including depression and anxiety, self-harm and suicide, increase in aggressive behavior, family breakdowns, and the negative effects of smuggling and trafficking. According to a staff of Save the Children, “Children are very resilient, but so many of their basic needs are not satisfied in the hotspots. They have lost so many months of school, of normal life and of routine”. Throughout the report’s recommendations, the organization calls upon the Ministry of Migration Policy and the Ministry of Education to  “ensure the access of all children stranded in Greece to the formal schooling system, regardless of their legal status” (p. 5). 

   Indeed, children in these “hotspots” are not growing up in areas where they can develop properly and live like any other child should. Save the Children has created Child-Friendly Spaces where all children are welcomed to go and be in a more hospitable area. However, with every other area in the camp, there is nothing normal to their living habits and conditions. One Praksis staff member stated that “Children in the hotspots are without a “normal” schedule. They don’t wake up at a certain hour, get ready, go to school. For children to develop, they need this type of predictability to feel safe. They need a routine that guides their development and emphasizes areas that need to be developed…They stay up late at night, they sleep until noon. They spend a lot of time around adults who are stressed and frustrated. This is not normal for their development” (p. 11). 

As a result, children in these environment start to become more aggressive, depressed, and turn to things like self-harm and suicide. When children only see violence and protest around them, they tend to mimic these qualities and tend to become more aggressive in order to defend themselves in such a dangerous environment. As well as this transformation of becoming more aggressive, children become more depressed. As said the report, at first children would draw colorful pictures, but the longer they spent there, they became more dark. When they are surrounded by things like dead bodies and people crying daily, it takes an emotional toll on them.

Staff members also see children turning to self-harm and suicide in order to escape reality. They start cutting themselves and imitating adults committing suicide.

According to the report, when looking at future integration for these children, it will be more difficult for them to transition back to a “normal” life. These hotspots affect some of the most important developmental periods of a child’s life and that can affect how they act for the rest of their lives. They only way children can start recovering from this, is if they are taken out of these poor conditions. 

The UK’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis means that at least 20,000 refugees from that conflict will arrive between now and 2020.  Many will be resettled in communities that have never hosted refugees before.  Every single resettled refugee will have a connection to a school, as only families are eligible for the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Programme.  Schools thus become crucial places of welcome, orientation and integration for refugee families.   

Citizens UK developed the Refugee Welcome School concept with one of its member schools, Saint Gabriel’s College, a Church of England secondary school in South London in 2016.  A further 35 schools soon expressed an interest in replicating the model.  In a project supported by Education International, NASUWT decided to join forces with Citizens UK to promote Refugee Welcome Schools.

Refugee Welcome Schools is an accreditation scheme to recognise schools that have made a commitment to welcome refugees in their institution and community, educate all their pupils and staff about the importance of refugee protection over the course of a year, and participate in campaigns to improve the lives of refugees in the UK.  

In order to become a Refugee Welcome School, schools should provide detail of a Refugee Welcome Plan, a Refugee Learning Plan, and a Refugee Action Plan that will be examined by a Refugee Welcome Schools Panel, made up of teachers, educationalists, trades unionists, children and refugees themselves. 

Accredited Refugee Welcome Schools are encouraged to display their accreditation certificate prominently, and are welcome to use the logo on materials. 

Both organisations have jointly produced a “Refugee Welcome School Support Pack” aiming to provide information and assistance to schools willing to apply and become part of the Refugee Welcome Schools Network.

 

With the recent election, came negative views towards undocumented immigrants entering and living in the United States. Last October, a group of associations and educators from different states in the US, including EI affiliates NEA and AFT, came together to develop extensive training targeting educators from around the country on how to launch the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or DACA. This program creates “deferred action” of the removal process from the United States of undocumented young people. Any undocumented person who is currently in school, has graduated high school or obtained a GED (General Education Development) is eligible for DACA relief [1].

Such volunteer trainings have been set up across the nation to properly learn how to review undocumented students applications and make sure they meet all of the requirements. Through extensive training run by immigration attorneys, volunteers fill out mock applications, learn different techniques from these lawyers regarding examining the application, and learn about different grant opportunities. 

One specific grant that is focused on is the National Education Association’s Minority Community Organizing & Partnership grant opportunities, which have helped fund DACA clinics throughout the nation. Education Austin which benefitted from this grant to organize a campaign focusing on informing the community in Austin about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, developed a toolkit to help other unions to organize DACA Forums and Clinics in their communities.

[1] More information about DACA is available here.

Source: http://educationvotes.nea.org/2016/10/28/anti-immigrant-election-season-defiant-educators-build-bridge-americas-undocumented-students/

 

On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, students from the Instituto de Enseñanza Secundaria La Morería and the Colegio Santa Creu launched an exhibition of the artistic works they have realized as part of a collaborative urban photomontage that will be organised in the coming months in Mislata with FECCOO’s support. The pictures have been placed on the walls of the institute and on the facade of the House of the Dona, in order to sensitize the entire local community of Mislata on the situation of refugees and the violation of their rights.

The exhibition will be open to the public for a week and then move to various institutions, such as the Center for Refugee Support (CAR) and other educational centers, to reach as many people as possible in the neighborhood. The initiative was applauded by the mayor of Mislata, Carlos Fernández Bielsa.

Begoña López, FECCOO’s coordinator of the projects in Spain, also participated in a debate entitled "Childhood and Refuge", bringing together various organizations and stakeholder working with migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, such as Save the Children, teachers of the educational centers of Mislata, Miquel Ruiz, the pedagogical coordinator of the Colegio Santa Creu, and Ana María Julián, the Councilor for Education.

A daylong conference is being organised by the German Education Union (GEW) state branch in Bremen that will take place on 21 September 2017. The event is part of a local capacity building project led by the union State branch and supported by Education International (called “Teachers Organising For Quality Education Provision for Refugees”).

The conference primarily targets teachers and other education personnel and aims to look at the state and quality of education for refugees in the German federal State of Bremen. Up to 100 participants will attend a varied programme made up of talks and workshops. Topics include educators' intercultural competences, dealing with prejudices and best practice examples of teachers’ work in schools. Parallel workshops with the Refugees’ Council concerning their projects in schools and discussions with the Vocational Trades Council about how refugees can access apprenticeships and vocational training will be held during the conference.

Registration for the conference will be possible from early August by writing an email to GEW Bremen (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).