Challenges of integrating refugees into Croatian society: attitudes of citizens and the readiness of local communities

Ajduković, Dean and Čorkalo Biruški, Dinka and Gregurović, Margareta and Matić Bojić, Jelena and Župarić-Iljić, Drago (2019) Challenges of integrating refugees into Croatian society: attitudes of citizens and the readiness of local communities. Government of the Republic of Croatia, Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities, Zagreb. ISBN 978-953-7870-09-6

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The integration and inclusion of persons under international protection (i.e. persons granted asylum and refugees) into society proceeds through their contacts and interactions with institutions and residents in local communities where their reception and accommodation have been organised. In this process, the achievement of social, economic, cultural and all other dimensions of integration in local communities is facilitated by the activities of different national and local stakeholders in the integration system. Creating the conditions for Croatian citizens to familiarize themselves with refugees requires joint efforts by all system stakeholders and engagement to inform citizens and raise their awareness about the presence, rights and obligations of persons under protection, with a view to preventing and mitigating any negative manifestations of discrimination, exclusion and marginalisation, and to ensuring that persons under international protection become accepted and integrated members of local communities and society as a whole. With this in mind, this research has analysed capacities and challenges, and assessed the resources and needs of local and regional self-government units given their past or future experience with the reception and integration of persons under protection. Furthermore, this research has also identified the attitudes of Croatian citizens towards persons under protection and their readiness for the reception and integration of persons granted asylum in their local communities.The general purpose of the project is to support units of local (cities, towns and municipalities) and regional (counties) self-government in identifying the needs and challenges of integrating third-country nationals in need of international protection. To achieve the purpose of this research, both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies have been used. As a result, it was conducted as mixed-method research, that is, as two correlated studies. The quantitative segment of the research pertains to its first goal, which was to identify the attitudes of Croatian citizens and their readiness for the acceptance and integration of third-country nationals granted international protection in the Republic of Croatia, while its qualitative segment refers to the second research goal, to identify the needs of local and regional self-government units in the process of integrating third-country nationals granted international protection in the Republic of Croatia as well as the challenges they encounter or will encounter when it comes to the integration of persons granted asylum into Croatian society. The third research goal, to prepare checklists for assessment of needs and challenges of integration for local and regional self-government units and for persons granted international protection, has been achieved by synthesising the findings reached under the previous two goals and by preparing two checklists. One is intended for heads and staff of LSGUs and RGSUs so that they can assess the existing needs, resources and capacities of their communities in terms of planning and implementation of integration activities. The other is designed for persons granted asylum and serves for the self-assessment of their needs and the extent to which they are met. Accordingly, the starting point for tool selection and elaboration is the multidimensional concept of integration of aliens into the host society, which is focused on the processes and dimensions of integration of persons under international protection (either with full asylum or subsidiary protection status) into Croatian society as a whole, but also into individual local communities in Croatian regions covered by this research.Due to the specific character of the quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches, the report describes methodological aspects and results separately, first for the quantitative study conducted by a survey of citizen’s attitudes towards the integration of persons under national protection, and then for the qualitative study of needs and challenges faced by local communities in the integration process. The target group of survey participants covered by the research was defined so as to include citizens living in selected counties (regional self-government units) and towns and municipalities (local self-government units). In order to form a sample of participants for the purposes of this research, Croatia was broken down into four regions: Eastern, Central and North-Western, Littoral and Istrian, and Dalmatian regions. In each region, the sample came to include between two and five counties (a total of 12) and between three and five towns (a total of 15). The Eastern Region encompassed the counties of Osijek-Baranja, Vukovar-Srijem and Požega-Slavonski Brod. The Central and North-Western Region included the City of Zagreb as well as the countries of Zagreb, Sisak-Moslavina, Bjelovar-Bilogora and Varaždin. The Littoral and Istrian Region covered Primorje-Gorski Kotar and Istria counties. The Region of Dalmatia consisted of Zadar and Split-Dalmatia counties.In the selected towns, the size of the sample was proportionate to the size of the town within its region, with the participants in each town selected by probability sampling. The sample of citizens aged 18 to 65 included 318 persons in each region, and probability sampling – together with the use of two levels of purposively selected clusters (region and town) – ensured that the sample structure, in terms of its socio-demographic profile, reflects the characteristics of the region’s population, according to publicly available statistics. The sample formed in this manner and its size (N = 1,272) allowed inter-regional comparisons with regard to the relevant characteristics of the participants and measured constructs. Data were gathered using the CAPI (Computer Aided Personal Interviewing) method, in the period from 14 May to 10 June 2018. The response rate was 57%, which is quite high given the type of research in question.The survey questionnaire contained 67 items forming the following constructs and scales: (1) Attitude towards persons granted asylum; (2) Perception of realistic threat; (3) Perception of symbolic threat; (4) Support for the rights of persons granted asylum; (5) Perception of negative changes in the community; (6) Readiness to assist persons granted asylum; (7) Frequency of contacts with persons granted asylum; (8) Quality of contacts with persons granted asylum; (9) Sources of information about persons granted asylum; (10) Media portrayal of persons granted asylum; (11) Social proximity to persons granted asylum; (12) Attitude towards forms of acculturation; (13) Estimated number of persons granted asylum; (14) Change in the number of persons granted asylum; (15) Socio-demographic profile of participants. The scales used in this questionnaire show very good metric characteristics: a Cronbach’s alpha internal reliability coefficient ranging from 0.77 to 0.93 and a clear construct validity and single-factor structure.The collected data were subject to a series of statistical analyses, including descriptive calculation of statistics (range, frequency, median measures, variability measures) at the levels of the aggregate sample and each region as well as inter-regional comparisons of the results derived from the measured constructs (variance analyses, t-tests, chi-squared tests). Also, by using regression analysis, a model was set to predict two forms of behavioural intentions among host populations: (1) readiness for social relations with asylum beneficiaries at different levels of proximity; and (2) readiness to help persons granted asylum in their integration. These two forms of behavioural intentions served as criterion variables, which were predicted on the basis of a set of predictors that included the participants’ individual attributes (socio-demographic variables and regional affiliation), their religious and political orientation, their opinion about the number of asylum beneficiaries to be received by the country in future and about their social adjustment strategies (i.e. about acculturation strategies), their frequency of contacts with persons granted asylum and their perception of threats and expected changes in the community caused by the arrival of persons granted asylum (i.e. perceptions of realistic and symbolic threats, and expectations of negative changes in the community).The average results obtained on the aggregate sample show that, when it comes to attitudes towards persons granted asylum, the respondents express attitudes that are, on average, neutral. However, when assessing their perception of threat, they seem to feel a slight realistic threat, and a somewhat stronger symbolic threat. The participants also express what is, on average, a neutral attitude regarding the expected negative changes in the community. As for their readiness to help asylum beneficiaries personally, the participants are also neutral, stating they are not sure of their readiness in this regard, but showing a slight support for the rights of asylum beneficiaries. Concerning the frequency of contacts with persons granted asylum, slightly more than half of the participants (52.1%) reported that they had such contacts, describing them, on average, neutrally – as neither positive nor negative. Among those who reported such contacts, the majority stated that they were rare.The data collected clearly show that the mass media (print and online news outlets, television and radio) are the most common source of information for Croatian citizens – more than 90% of citizens receive information about persons granted asylum in this way. These are followed by social media, which are used as a source of information about asylum beneficiaries by nearly half of the participants (45.8%). It has been established that citizens deem the media portrayal of asylum beneficiaries slightly negative.As for social proximity, the participants are, on average, ready to accept persons granted asylum as their fellow workers or neighbours, where it is obvious that the citizens are, for the time being, not ready for the closest relations with asylum beneficiaries, although nearly 61% would be ready for friendly relations.The participants were also asked about acceptable acculturation strategies, that is, about how persons granted asylum should approach the Croatian culture and maintenance of their own culture. The majority of participants (70.7%) chose integration as the preferred acculturation strategy (both maintaining their own culture and accepting the culture of the host country). About one fifth of the participants champion assimilation as the preferred acculturation strategy; i.e. they expect persons granted asylum to relinquish their specific culture and accept only that of their host country. Separation, that it, the opinion that persons granted asylum should maintain only their own culture without accepting Croatian culture, is upheld by 3.7% of the participants. Looking at acculturation strategies as a continuum (from assimilation, through integration, to separation, or vice versa), the participants on average tend to support cultural integration of persons granted asylum.When it comes to estimating the number of persons granted asylum at the time of survey, only one fifth of the participants made a more or less accurate estimate. Somewhat more than a fourth of participants underestimated the actual number of asylum beneficiaries, whereas almost half of them overestimated the number of cases of granted asylum. These results are consistent with the replies regarding preferred projections of the number of asylum beneficiaries in the future. Specifically, the majority of participants (45.8%) feel that their number should remain the same, only slightly fewer are those who would reduce it (45.6%), while less than a tenth holds that the future number of asylum beneficiaries in Croatia should go up.The analysis of regional differences demonstrates that the least positive attitudes towards persons granted asylum, the highest perception of both realistic and symbolic threats, the lowest support for the rights of asylum beneficiaries, the highest expectations of negative changes, and the lowest readiness to assist are present among participants in the Dalmatian Region. It is followed by the Eastern Region, and then the Littoral and Central Regions, where these attitudes are more positive. The frequency of contacts with persons granted asylum is low in all the regions, with the lowest levels reported in the Eastern and Dalmatian regions. However, there are no regional differences in the quality of contacts, as it is everywhere seen as neutral. Readiness for close contacts is the lowest in Dalmatia, followed by the Eastern Region, with its highest levels reported in the Littoral and Central regions. The citizens of all regions choose integration as their preferred acculturation strategy, while participants in Dalmatia divided their preferences between assimilation and integration. The number of asylum beneficiaries is mistakenly estimated in all regions. Indeed, it is overestimated everywhere except the Eastern Region, where the figure is underestimated. Furthermore, while the citizens of the Central and Littoral regions would prefer to keep the future number of asylum beneficiaries at the same level, those in the Eastern and Dalmatian regions are keener to reduce it. When predicting the readiness for social proximity with asylum beneficiaries, the key predictors include the attitude towards the number of asylum beneficiaries in the future and acculturation strategies. The readiness for a higher level of proximity is demonstrated by those citizens who feel that the future number of asylum beneficiaries should be increased, as well as those who champion integration. The predictors of marginal importance include practising religion, where the participants who do not declare themselves as practicing believers tend to be ready for a higher level of proximity with persons granted asylum, as well as the perception of symbolic threat and the fear of negative changes in the community, where those who perceive a higher symbolic threat from asylum beneficiaries and expect more negative changes in the community due to the arrival of persons granted asylum tend to be ready for a lower level of proximity with them. These results generally apply to all of the four regions.When it comes to predicting the readiness to assist asylum beneficiaries personally, it can also be said that – allowing for minor regional particularities – the key factors include the participants’ opinion that the number of asylum beneficiaries should increase in the future and, again, the perception of a higher symbolic and realistic threat. Those participants who feel that the future number of asylum beneficiaries should increase are readier to help, whereas those whose perception of threat from asylum beneficiaries is higher are also less prepared to assist them personally. Another highly significant predictor is the frequency of contacts with persons granted asylum. Those participants who reported more frequent contacts with asylum beneficiaries are also more prepared to assist them. Finally, the variables of marginal significance include gender and political orientation, where women and those on the left side of the political spectrum would be readier to help asylum beneficiaries.The conducted regression analyses show that the most frequent predictors for both criteria (social proximity and readiness for personal assistance) include the perception of symbolic and realistic threat, expectation of negative changes in the community due to the arrival of asylum beneficiaries, opinion that the future number of asylum beneficiaries in Croatia should be increased and the choice of integration as the preferred acculturation strategy. It follows that a more favourable attitude of Croatian citizens can be expected if they feel less threatened by persons granted asylum, that is, if they understand that their arrival does not pose a threat to the existing identity and culture nor jeopardise the resources of local communities, if they expect less negative changes in their communities due to the arrival of asylum beneficiaries, if they think that the number of asylum beneficiaries in Croatia needs to be increased in the future, and if they believe that integration is the acculturation strategy appropriate for Croatia.The second part of this research deals with the assessment of needs and challenges which are or will be encountered by LSGUs and RSGUs, and also of the capacities and resources required for integration with regard to the current or anticipated accommodation and stay of asylum beneficiaries in their local communities.This part of the research was conducted through a series of interviews and focus groups with different stakeholders in the integration system, which are in one way or another involved in or will in future be responsible for the processes of reception and integration of persons granted asylum. Stakeholders from LSGU and RSGU include representatives from county-level and town-level public authorities and various professional institutions, while the CSO stakeholders include representatives from the non-governmental sector, religious organisations and civic initiatives. The perspectives of integration processes were, whenever possible, complemented with those of asylum beneficiaries in the local communities in which they live. For sampling purposes, a list of 30 units (9 counties and 21 towns) was drawn up, taking into account the criteria of regional representation, town size, experience with the integration of asylum beneficiaries and available state-owned housing units. Along with the four regions, the City of Zagreb was taken separately as it considerably differs from other regions in terms of the number of integration stakeholders and capacities, as well as the number of asylum beneficiaries it hosts. The persons included in the sample had the attributes of schoolants based on their role and office they held, their experience and knowledge of the needs and challenges relating to the integration of asylum beneficiaries in local communities. In keeping with the principle of maximising the variability of key informants, a total of 168 interviews and four focus groups were conducted with 227 participants, including 26 interviews with persons granted asylum. Once all of the methodological requirements were met in the process of qualitative-data gathering, 158 transcripts obtained from 216 interviewees were subjected to analysis. The other transcripts did not contain any useful information because some interviewees were totally uninformed about the topic of the research. Of the total number of analysed transcripts, 143 contain data obtained from 191 representatives of municipalities, towns and counties, state-administration offices at the county-level, professional institutions and the civil sector, while 15 transcripts of interviews and focus groups contained information obtained from 26 asylum beneficiaries. The analysis made it possible to identify some specific features of statements made by representatives of the selected local communities about their needs, challenges, opportunities and expectations. A comparison has been made among the four regions and the City of Zagreb, and similarities and differences have been analysed among statements made by stakeholders from different sectors.The results for all regions (except the City of Zagreb) equally suggest that most of the integration-system stakeholders from LSGUs and RSGUs (towns, municipalities and counties) generally had no direct experience of contacts and work with persons granted asylum or, if they had, then they encountered asylum beneficiaries in rare, individual cases. On the other hand, interlocutors from Zagreb recounted and described experiences of direct and immediate encounters with persons granted asylum, mostly through participation in projects with SCOs and the OHRRNM, while CSOs in all the regions have very little direct experience with asylum beneficiaries. A large portion of LSGUs and RSGUs in each region state that they are not aware of the Action Plan for Integration, or are aware of it only partly, or since a short time ago. Stakeholders in various sectors and regions have not developed their own action plans and protocols for integration, independent of the Action Plan. Professional institutions do not have their own plans either, but many of them perform tasks relating to the integration of persons granted asylum as part of their daily work and remit, and some have their own internal prodecural protocols, most often based on their previous experience with marginalised groups or guidelines from relevant ministries. All stakeholders in all regions agree that the lack of funding poses a serious structural constraint and that allocations for integration activities should be increased. They stress that the entire budget is centralised and that they lack special resources earmarked for integration, noting, however, that budget allocations could be repurposed or activated if and when the need arises.When it comes to understanding the importance and indicators of successful integration, there are no major differences between either sectors or regions. As far as the key dimension of integration is concerned, all stakeholders across all regions highlight communication, that is, learning the Croatian language, as a crucial prerequisite for all other aspects of integration, especially for the inclusion of children in the education system, participation of adults in the labour market, addressing housing issues and, generally, enabling asylum beneficiaries to get along in local communities. In the Central Region, professional institutions claim that integration could also be facilitated by the community’s experience with refugees during the Croatian War, and the history of coexistence with national minorities. In the Central Region, they feel that integration would be more successful if asylum beneficiaries were accommodated within the community rather than isolated, and if they were provided with appropriate care and inclusion in community life. All stakeholders across all regions voice some sort of concern because, when it comes to the accommodation of persons granted asylum, they expect negative reactions from the host population due to cultural and religious differences, especially in smaller communities, with the general opinion being that larger towns would be readier to accept asylum beneficiaries. Interlocutors in Zagreb are the most critical of the local community as a favourable environment for integration, with professional institutions stating that negative sentiments are the greatest problem, stemming primarily from fear of the unknown among the local population. Nonetheless, almost all of the interviewed asylum beneficiaries highlight the positive experiences they had with their acceptance in local communities, noting, however, that it took a while for them to feel accepted by their neighbours. Only three out of 26 interlocutors report having negative experiences upon their arrival in the community, consisting mainly of unpleasant verbal comments. Persons granted asylum generally do not see any major cultural barriers to their life in Croatia, but in their view the integration system is not well-organised and includes some contradictions.At the intraregional level alone, and particularly at the interregional level, the integration stakeholders from different local communities show considerable differences when estimating the integration capacity of their communities. The majority of LSGUs believe that organising language courses falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Science and Education, expressing concerns about the duration of courses (too few lessons) and uncertainties about their funding, while RSGUs also stress their lack of human and logistic capacities to organise courses. Professional institutions shift the responsibility for organizing courses to administrative bodies – from the local, through the regional, to the national levels. Only representatives of Zagreb-based SCOs report more direct involvement in the organisation of courses – some of them offer them in a formalised manner, and others through voluntary engagement. As to the inclusion in the education system, most stakeholders stress the problem of slow-moving administration and emphasize the heavy teaching workload, suggesting that there is a need for additional teachers as well as the necessity to work additionally with asylee children. Further difficulties mentioned are related to the lack of personal documents and the issue of recognising diplomas and previously acquired qualifications. In the Littoral and Central regions, they also highlight a lack of interpreters and teaching assistants, over which they have no control, but depend on the relevant ministry.Most of stakeholders from LSGUs and RSGUs are actually unaware of the existing accommodation capacity because they do not own any housing units or have already allocated all they had to beneficiaries from certain social categories. They see a possible solution in the conversion of the existing vacant buildings or renting of private flats, where they report problems with landlords, i.e. the unwillingness of landlords to let out their flats to accommodate persons granted asylum and the high rents they impose. Persons granted asylum are mostly concerned about their initial accommodation in reception centres, with which they were partially (dis)satisfied and, in addition to prejudice by landlords, the interlocutors also stressed high prices. In their local communities, asylum beneficiaries have been recognised as a desirable workforce in sectors with labour shortfalls. The LSGU representatives stress the need for a skilled workforce in the construction and public works sectors and, in the Eastern Region, agriculture. In addition to feeling that employers should be informed of opportunities to hire asylum beneficiaries, LSGUs are somewhat keener to consider potential retraining and additional training schemes as well as efforts to overcome the language barrier, referring to professional services which should take over that task. Many see the opportunities to employ asylum beneficiaries primarily in low-skill and ancillary jobs, such as kitchen or warehouse assistants and so forth. While the asylum beneficiaries themselves are highly motivated to take part in the labour market, since they see employment as a key prerequisite to gaining independence, they are aware of the economic situation in Croatia and do not want to become a public charge, but rather an active and productive segment of the society.Almost all interlocutors attach great importance to public information and awareness-raising campaigns, and most of them also recognise the role of the media in this process and believe that it is extremely important to get the local population acquainted with good practices and examples of successful efforts to integrate asylum beneficiaries, and to inform them about their culture and customs. This would prevent the development of prejudice and discrimination, where the LSGU representatives often see their role in such efforts unlike RSGUs, among which only a few recognise it. Professional institutions also leave the role of awareness raising to the media and, for the time being, carry out awareness-raising activities in the form of workshops and cultural events mainly with support from CSOs in Zagreb. The training of staff members and professionals has also been stressed as extremely important, yet largely non-existent in most institutions, offices and organisations.Nearly all interviewees from all regions agree that asylum beneficiaries have been provided with adequate social welfare, just like all of its other beneficiaries. Some of the representatives of LSGUs and professional institutions from the Dalmatian and Eastern Regions noted that asylum beneficiaries were not supposed to be singled out, that is, afforded greater rights and priorities than domestic social-welfare beneficiaries. All local communities feel that asylum beneficiaries have been provided with adequate health-care, but the interviewees highlight a lack of physicians and the overload of the health system, as well as communications. When it comes to providing adequate social welfare and health care, a common problem stressed in all regions is the insufficient capacity of institutions, while other aggravating circumstances include slow systems, uninformed staff members, shortcomings in the monitoring of asylum beneficiaries, uncertainties about the financing of health-care services and lack of coordination between different stakeholders. The same issues are also reported by the asylum beneficiaries themselves.Professional institutions have, for the most part, already established cooperation with almost all stakeholders involved in the integration process. In this context, they most often point out line ministries, as well as significant cooperation with CSOs. Only the Central Region (including Zagreb) highlights the existing cooperation with LSGUs and the OHRRNM, or with international organisations. The LSGU and RSGU representatives are somewhat more likely to expect more significant engagement by and cooperation with CSOs, which they consider more capable of writing projects and mobilising funds for work with asylum beneficiaries or count on their human resources. Some professional institutions are also focused on inter-city and inter-county cooperation, for example, with other social-welfare centres, in order to compare their experiences and share good practices. The SCO stakeholders state national and local authorities make insufficient use of the capacity and experience of local SCOs.All stakeholders criticize administration primarily because of the lack of timely and transparent exchanges of information, given that they are perceived as responsible for the entire system. Stakeholders in local communities feel that they operate without specific guidelines and decisions, everything being left to improvisation. Professional institutions hold that the measures defined in the Action Plan are not applicable to the realities in the field, stressing that the system is not prepared to respond to current challenges and needs such as, for instance, securing accommodation and interpreters. There is also concern about the duplication of work by different institutions and organisations, and shifting responsibilities to CSOs. It has been stressed that a protocol in needed which would contain descriptions and guidelines for the implementation of steps in the integration of persons granted asylum, which should define the sequence of implementing integration measures, those in charge of their implementation, including their responsibilities, as well as the forms of their cooperation. Such a protocol and guidelines would enable LSGUs and RSGUs to rely on these documents in their work and to act in compliance therewith. All stakeholders emphasize the need to receive timely and reliable information about the number, structure and time of arrival of persons granted asylum in their areas because this information is crucial for them to be able to prepare themselves for different aspects of their integration. A distribution plan is a document cited by all self-government units as essential to launch preparations for the asylum beneficiaries, in accordance with the aforementioned protocol.All stakeholders highlight interpreters and cultural mediators as a very pressing need in all regions. It has been stressed that interpreters should be professionally trained, rather than semi-skilled individuals or family members, let alone children. All stakeholders realize that securing housing is a key prerequisite for the reception and integration of persons granted asylum, and that it falls within the remit of the central government, rather than the local community. The Eastern and Dalmatian Regions place special emphasis on the need to provide adequate accommodation for unaccompanied children under international protection. Also, all integration stakeholders feel that efforts are needed to speed up administrative procedures because there is a gap between what has been set forth in legislation and what can really be implemented due to technical barriers, including children’s registration in school e-registers, medical records, access to Croatian language learning, and verification of previously acquired qualifications and job competencies which is a requirement for education or employment. To achieve all this, sound intersectorial cooperation is required.The integration stakeholders in all regions show a clear need to prepare, raise the awareness of and train the staff directly involved in the integration process for contacts with and providing services to persons granted asylum. Since professional institutions are places of direct and on-going contacts with asylum beneficiaries, there is a need for continuous training of their professional staff. The training of all integration stakeholders should include learning about the culture and customs of asylum beneficiaries and it should be based on the principles of intercultural communication. In some professional institutions whose staff are engaged in direct and intense work with families of asylum beneficiaries, such as counselling and psychosocial support, there is an increased need for continuous mental-health care and stress prevention among staff members through supervision and professional support.Given that they believe that the responsibility for integrating persons granted asylum rests primarily with the state, a number of LGSUs, professional institutions and some CSOs expect the state to bear the related costs. The LSGUs in the Central Region see the opportunity to secure funding by applying for EU projects and drawing money from EU funds. In the Dalmatian Region, the LSGUs expect the state to issue fewer instructions, and to focus more on direct care for asylum beneficiaries. At the LSGU level, help in meeting community needs in the integration process and their own efforts is expected from the Government of the RoC, primarily the OHRRNM as the central coordinating body. Some RSGUs believe that they will successfully carry out all tasks imposed by law and those received from the competent state authorities, and that they will tackle problems only once asylum beneficiaries arrive in their territory. LSGUs and RSGUs see their role in coordinating different integration process stakeholders, such as professional institutions and CSOs, at the town and county levels. Some LSGUs also see their role in supporting other stakeholders when they lack capacity in the integration process, and in networking with other institutions within the community. In this context, they stress their role in providing information to asylum beneficiaries and improving intersectorial cooperation because they “have a good overview of the activities of different services.” Some LSGUs feel that a person should be assigned to each integration stakeholder as its key informant about how asylum beneficiaries can exercise their rights.The LSGUs see their key contribution to integration in their efforts to raise the awareness of and inform the public about the arrival of persons granted asylum and the process of their integration, being aware there resistance to their arrival in some communities. In the Eastern Region, they warn that greater resistance to the arrival of asylum beneficiaries may be expected in communities that are traditionally more closed and host a larger number of immigrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, who were forced to leave their homes due to armed conflicts with the Muslims. In the Central and Littoral regions and the City of Zagreb, they believe that the experience they have with proven integration mechanisms for socially vulnerable groups, referring to members of the Roma national minority, will help them in the process of integrating asylum beneficiaries. The LSGUs feel they can also directly support integration efforts by providing initial financial assistance to asylum beneficiaries, helping in the process of their reception and accommodation, offering aid such as food and toiletries, facilitating children’s inclusion in educational institutions, covering their kindergarten costs (Eastern and Littoral regions, Zagreb), as well as helping asylum beneficiaries to find employment. Professional institutions will address integration as part of their daily activities, by providing services for persons granted asylum as well as any other beneficiaries. The LSGUs, RSGUs and professional institutions see the important role of CSOs in complementing services provided to asylum beneficiaries by professional institutions. Most of the CSOs plan to expand their present activities to meet the specific needs of asylums beneficiaries, and represent a major integration potential for local communities, highlighting their networks of volunteers as a key asset in work with persons granted asylum. The CSOs feel that a coordination mechanism should be put in place at the LSGU level so as to bring together all the stakeholders, including the civil sector, and ensure transparent financing of services for asylum beneficiaries.Croatia has few communities with any reception and integration experience and most of the local communities covered by this research have not considered or prepared themselves for this challenge. Yet, the integration stakeholders in all units included in this research stress that they crucially need timely and reliable information about the plans for the arrival and distribution of persons granted asylum, and that information from the relevant ministries, particularly from the OHRRNM, will enable them to launch preparations for integration activities and possible reception of asylum beneficiaries. Finally, the recommendations derived from this research will facilitate improvements in policies and practices for the integration of persons under international protection, making it easier and less painful to achieve the objectives stemming from Croatia’s commitments as an EU member state, as well as its legislation and action plans of the Government of the RoC.

Item Type: Book
Additional Information: Language: English. - Book is also published in Croatian. - Title in Croatian: Izazovi integracije izbjeglica u hrvatsko društvo: stavovi građana i pripremljenost lokalnih zajednica. - URL:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Integration of refugees, Croatia, public attitudes, local communities (integracija izbjeglica, Hrvatska, stavovi građana, lokalne zajednice)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Depositing User: Karolina
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2019 10:33
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2019 10:33

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