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‘My children and I were finally safe’

The day armed groups blocked the roads in Asma’s home town in Idlib, she decided to run for her and her family’s life. Resettlement to Spain helped her rebuild her life.

In 2012 Asma, her husband and their four children arrived in a refugee camp in Turkey. Life was extremely challenging in the camp, so the entire family was overjoyed when they were selected for resettlement to Spain: ‘Whilst it is always going to be very difficult to move to a new country, I felt that my children and I were finally safe,’ she says.

Asma and her family knew very little about Spain before they left Turkey. But the support provided by the IRC’s partner Accem made their arrival much easier.

Asma’s family was assigned a case worker, who helped to ensure that the first months of settling down were as smooth as possible. In both Taledo, where they arrived, and Madrid, where the family settled later on, Asma had someone by her side to accompany her to appointments and cultural orientation sessions.

Through the integration programme delivered by Accem, her children received the medical care that they required and were enrolled in the Spanish school system.

‘I’m so proud of my children, they have performed brilliantly at school, and I can’t believe how quickly they have learned Spanish! They now speak it perfectly!’ Asma is attending Spanish classes too, as well as meeting with her mentor twice a week.

Navigating public services, whilst trying to learn a new language, is a huge challenge that many refugees face after resettlement. That’s why the integration support is crucial.

‘The classes have made a big difference for me, and really changed my situation in Spain. My mentor helps a lot with complicated paperwork, and accompanies my children to the theatre, park and cinema. They are very happy to spend time with her!’

Accem also provided Asma’s husband with job-seeking support. These services included personal guidance on interviews and pre-employment training. With the organisation’s assistance, her husband was able to find work with a construction firm. He has been with them for the last six months and is now looking to open his own business.

Asma says the integration programme was ‘A great help’ that made it possible for her and her children to grow closer to people in Spain. The assistance has made the often difficult transition that comes with resettlement more bearable.

‘I still feel nostalgic when I think about home, and I know this will never go away. However, I am here and whilst I will always be the same person, I really hope that my children will get to learn and be happy.’

Funded by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Home and Migration Affairs, the European Resettlement and Integration Technical Assistance project (EURITA) is led by the International Rescue Committee together with partners Conselho Português para os Refugiados in Portugal, Fundatia Schottener Servicii Sociale in Romania and Accem in Spain. Initial EURITA funding came from the U.S. Department of State. With a focus on strengthening the capacity of integration practitioners to deliver post-arrival cultural orientation and to engage the communities in which they work, the EURITA project seeks to support the integration of refugees resettled in EU member states.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.