Last week (24/11) IOM, the UN Migration Agency, supported the resettlement of 22 Syrian refugees to France. With this group, the number of refugees resettled to France from Lebanon has reached 1,937 refugees since the start of the EU-funded programme in 2014.
Bruno Foucher, Ambassador of France to Lebanon, was present at Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport to personally see off the refugees and wish them well as they embarked on their new lives in France.
IOM Lebanon supported the refugees from the selection interviews to their departure. The support included organizing domestic and international travel arrangements, coordinating with UNHCR the exit permit applications to the General Security Directorate of Lebanon, and assisting the refugees at the airport prior to their departure.
IOM France assisted the refugees upon their arrival to Paris, coordinating with NGOs and accommodation providers in charge of integration, follow-up and support and generally ensuring that the refugees were immediately taken care of upon their arrival in France.
“Resettlement of refugees is an important, life-saving scheme which demonstrates a solidarity and a sense of shared responsibility with Lebanon in response to the refugee situation in this small country, which hosts over a million Syrian refugees,” said Fawzi Al Zioud, IOM Lebanon Head of Office.
In preparation of their resettlement, the refugees attended pre-departure orientation (PDO) sessions which aim to provide refugees with practical information on life in France, integration and cultural adaptation processes. During these interactive sessions, dedicated IOM trainers, who speak the language of the refugees, addressed issues such as gender equality, religious practices, and rights and obligations under the resettlement scheme.
Prior to travel, physicians from IOM’s Migration Health Department conducted pre-embarkation medical checks of all refugees to ensure they were fit to travel and suffered no acute illnesses that could have compromised their safety, or that of other passengers.
Among the refugees headed for France was 4-year-old Sham, whose birthday coincided with the departure date and was therefore in a very celebratory mood. Like the other refugees in the group, Sham’s parents fled from Syria to Lebanon a few years ago and are looking forward to a new life in France.
From January until 24 November 2017, IOM Lebanon has supported the resettlement and family reunifications of 17,231 refugees and migrants to 23 countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden. France is among the 37 countries worldwide with resettlement programmes and is a main partner of IOM in securing durable solutions and dignified assistance for refugees and migrants.
The current resettlement programme is funded by the national programme of the EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), managed by the French Ministry of Interior (General Directorate for Foreigners in France).