The Netherlands: Cultural Orientation for Resettlement Refugees, and Global Cultural Orientation for Family Reunification

IOM offers migration services and assistance to governments and individuals to facilitate the migration process and enhance migrants’ chances of succeeding in their new environment.

One of these services is migrant training, in which teaching life skills and attitudes prepares and empowers migrants for their new life abroad. This training is gen­erally delivered before the migrants’ departure, and is designed based on their specific needs.

The objec­tives of these training programmes are:

  • to provide participants with up-to-date factual information about their country of destination;
  • to assist participants in developing the skills needed to succeed in their new environment or workplace; and
  • to explore attitudes necessary for successful adaptation and integration.

Migrant training empowers participants to adapt more rapidly and successfully to the day-to-day demands of their new environment and to apply their skills not just at an economic level but also at a social and cultural level.

IOM’s vision is that integration is a two-way process in which both the newcomer and the receiving community play a vital role. Therefore, post arrival activities in the host country are an important element in many projects carried out by IOM.

Cultural Orientation

IOM the Netherlands offers two pre-departure training projects worldwide, targeting different migrant groups:

NLCO III, “Towards a structural cultural orientation program for resettlement refugees in the Netherlands” is for refugees accepted by the Dutch government for resettlement in the Netherlands, and

CO-Nareis, “Global cultural orientation for family reunification to the Netherlands: First steps to integration”, is for the family members of migrants already settled in the Netherlands.

The type of training provided in the context of these projects is called Pre-departure Cultural Orientation (CO). Both projects are implemented by IOM in the Netherlands

NLCO III: “Towards a structural cultural orientation program for resettlement refugees in the Netherlands”

NLCO is an IOM project that provides pre-departure cultural orientation to refugees who are accepted for resettlement to the Netherlands as dossier cases. Dossier cases refer to refugees whose files are reviewed and accepted, without having any formal face-to-face interview with the immigration officers of the Netherlands. About 100 dossier cases are accommodated each year, forming part of the Netherlands’ annual resettlement quota of 500 refugees.

NLCO aims to provide these refugees with information about their future host country in order for them to have a factual and realistic expectation of their new life in the Netherlands. The goal of the training is to assist the resettled refugees to become self-sufficient as soon as possible, while minimizing cultural shock and promoting smooth integration into Dutch society.

Training sessions are offered worldwide and can be provided in a one-day or four-day format before the refugees depart for the Netherlands. Local trainers teach the classes in a culturally sensitive manner and in the language of the refugees.

The topics that are covered include:

  • Pre-departure assistance
  • Post-arrival assistance
  • Employment and job searching
  • Money management
  • Cultural insights
  • Dutch language skills
  • Dutch education system
  • Dutch healthcare system
  • Dutch legal system
  • Dutch history
  • Dutch politics

The NLCO-III project is funded by the European Refugee Fund and co-funded by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security and the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA).

It was launched in October 2013 will run until July 2015. The NLCO-III project will build on the experiences and lessons learned from the previous NLCO projects, which were implemented between January 2010 to June 2011 and January 2012 to June 2013.

“They can rebuild their future in a safe country where everyone is protected by the law, can enjoy equal human rights and where children can have access to education.” – May Sandar Win, Cultural Orientation Trainer

CO-Nareis

Migrants approved for family reunification to the Netherlands by the Dutch Immigration Service (IND) and 12 years of age or older are eligible to participate in the CO-Nareis pre-departure cultural orientation to prepare them for their future in the Netherlands. Family Reunification is a process whereby family members separated through forced or voluntary migration join up in a country other than the one of their origin.

CO-Nareis aims to provide migrants with factual information about the Netherlands, practical skills for daily life and strategic tools to address challenges presented by culture shock and integration. Participation is free of charge and includes meals, beverages, childcare, lodging, training materials, an MP3 player, and reimbursement of travel costs to and from the training location.

Training sessions are offered worldwide and can be provided in a one-day or four-day format. Local trainers provide the training in a culturally sensitive manner and in the language of the migrants.

The topics that are covered include:

  • Pre-departure assistance
  • Post-arrival assistance
  • Employment and job searching
  • Money management
  • Cultural insights
  • Dutch language skills
  • Dutch education system
  • Dutch healthcare system
  • Dutch legal system
  • Dutch history
  • Dutch politics

CO-Nareis is funded by the European Integration Fund and co-funded by the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

The first phase of the project (FamCO) was implemented from 2011 to 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In October 2013, CO-Nareis was launched worldwide and will run until June 2015. CO-Nareis will build on the experiences and lessons learned from FamCO.