The project in brief
Réseau des Exilés en France
2017 - present
In 2016, more than one million people traveled to Europe to escape conflicts in their respective countries and seek protection. 100,000 people sought asylum in France in 2017. They arrived in big cities, like Paris, without knowing anyone, with no family or friends. Most finding themselves sleeping in the streets, some of the most infamous spots being Stalingrad, Porte de la Chapelle and Calais.
The associative project was founded by Yasin Abdi Jama, a Somalian who is currently President of the association, while he was in the process of applying for asylum. He now has refugee status. After having noticed a great lack of information concerning the asylum application procedure in the camps where he was living, as well as the virtual absence of connection with the French population, Yasin Abdi Jama wanted to make the most of his time while waiting to legalize his stay. He created an association to overcome these problems. He encouraged his fellow asylum seekers to share all their knowledge with "newcomers" and to be more active during waiting periods related to the asylum application, notably by taking part in language courses, sports events, and to propose them as well. Thus our association, REF (Réseau des Exilés en France) is founded and managed by refugees themselves. We are a group of people (including doctors, lawyers, engineers, entrepreneurs, designers, translators, laborers) with diverse skills and knowledge and we each have something to offer to our society.
- Welcoming. Improve access to information for refugees and asylum seekers regarding their rights and the asylum procedure.
- Integration. Facilitate the social and cultural integration of refugees into their host community, before and after their status is confirmed.
- Professional development. Support training and skills development for refugees in order for them to gain access to decent work commensurate with their ambition.
- Advocacy. Promote the expertise and voice of refugees to major decision-making bodies.
VIDEO: Réseau des Exilés en France (REF)
Financial resources. These are sourced from private funds such as Fondation de France, FAIRE, and Cohérence; and public donors such as Paris city hall, Créteil town hall, 94 department and the Ile de France region.
We also use crowdfunding and generate income through language training courses.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Our platforms inform and support people who are going through the challenging issues that every refugee and asylum seeker faces in France. Since we have been through this ourselves, we have collected huge amounts of information about asylum procedures, language courses and legal aid available to help other navigate their way, and we make this available to them. Further, as we know how important having a social life is, we also organize sporting events and social events designed to help refugees integrate into society.
- Elan Interculturel
- Fondation de France
- France terre d’asile
Challenges and how they were overcome
The creation of the association was complex because of the precarious status of Yasin Abdi Jama. The project was able to be carried out thanks to the help of the local people and associations of which it is surrounded by.
Results of the Good Practice
- As a result of this project the self-confidence of displaced persons in our network and in France have increased as we encourage them to be themselves and recognize their contribution to society.
- Refugees and asylum seekers’ knowledge of their rights and of the French asylum system has increased.
- The project has created more than 100 language buddies (refugees and locals) in the Paris region.
- Refugees on our network are already participating in crucial events regarding refugees and their integration into French society.