RCRC Working Group on Family Reunification (FRWG)
The project in brief
Red Cross EU Office
Across EU Member States and in third countries where the Family Links Network of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (RCRC Movement) operates.
05 April 2018 – Present
Successful work on family reunification strengthens the capacity of individuals to function in their host countries and promotes social and economic self-sufficiency. The Family Reunification Working Group (FRWG) advocates for a flexible and expansive approach to family reunification depending on the actual family bonds of the beneficiaries, thus enhancing their integration prospects.
The FRWG promotes sustainable solutions for beneficiaries of international protection by facilitating effective procedures and clear referral pathways for family reunification, and in this way upholding family unity.
The FRWG aims to build a resilient framework on family reunification in order to better serve the needs of refugee families across the globe and influence a a state that is likely to have a detrimental impact on the right to family life.
Through the FRWG, the RCRC Movement enhances its family reunification work ranging from advocacy for the families’ rights to reunification, legal and administrative support in the process, helps with the provision of identity papers and travel documents, facilitates of physical reunification in coordination with the concerned authorities, institutions and organisations.
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The Family Reunification Working Group aims to develop a robust framework on family reunification for the RCRC Movement and set up minimum standards around key activities run by the Movement’s components in support of family reunification in Europe and beyond.
Moreover, it aims to define further what could be expected from each component of the Movement to increase support for family reunification.
The Family Reunification Working Group promotes multiple objectives:
- Enhance operational collaboration within the Movement beyond Europe, i.e. in migrants’ countries of origin and transit.
- Strengthen joint advocacy across the Movement around key areas of concerns to avoid the potential humanitarian impact of family separation in and beyond Europe.
- Take stock of the current legislation and practices in place at different national levels, including EU rules on Family Reunification for beneficiaries residing within and outside Europe, and produce relevant policy recommendations in response to recent developments and current trends and practices of States.
- Follow up to the implementation of GCR objectives related to the respect of family unity and ensure that family reunification legislation is in place and effectively implemented to ensure safe and legal avenues.
- Map strategic litigation of EU Red Cross National Societies and use successful case resolutions in some countries to support change in other countries.
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The RCRC Movement’s strength in supporting family reunification for separated migrants largely relies on its worldwide operational network and presence along the entire migratory trail. Preserving family unity and preventing family separation, notably through Restoring Family Links (RFL) services, lies at the core of the RCRC Movement. Delegations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are present in countries of origin, countries of transit and countries of destination where they apply the same principles and working methods. The Restoring Family Services of the National Societies and the ICRC form a single worldwide network called the ‘Family Links Network’. The Family Reunification Working Group is an integral part of the worldwide Family Links Network of the International Red Cross and Crescent Movement. Overall, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is present in more than 190 countries.
The Family Reunification Working Group builds upon the global-scale expertise gained through the provision of services throughout the entire family reunification process. These range from psychological, psychosocial and legal to administrative and socioeconomic support. It is further fed by the dialogue between the RCRC Movement and the States on how to better address the family reunification needs of beneficiaries.
The work of the Working Group is facilitated through a common online platform (FLextranet), notably via experience and knowledge sharing, exchange of good practices, as well as capacity building.
The work of the Family Reunification Working Group is underpinned by the Code of Conduct on Data Protection, which applies to the operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the RCRC National Societies. The Code of Conduct is a reference document for restoring family links and family reunification activities as it sets out the minimum principles, commitments, and procedures that members of the RCRC Movement must comply with when processing data within the Family Links Network.
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- Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies
- International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
- International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
- Red Cross EU Office
Challenges and how they were overcome
An important challenge is related to the different family reunification policies and legal frameworks in each country. Each country interprets and applies family reunification rules and standards in a different manner. Similarly, each country puts in place different set of policies and practices in the area of family reunification. Both elements can have a significant impact on family unity and create a complicated legal and policy landscape, rendering the creation of common strategies difficult for the National Societies.
The Family Reunification Working Group is seeking to further expand beyond Europe. Efforts are being put into including more National Societies/ICRC Delegations from outside Europe in order to increase understanding of how family reunification along the entire migratory trail could be better supported.
In order to fully comprehend and address the consequences of policy developments on family reunification in each country and respond to family separation challenges, the Family Reunification Working Group pay particular attention to involving in its work different structures and departments within National Societies including tracing services, migration and international departments.
From the beginning of its creation, the Family Reunification Working Group has identified the need to involve more National Societies and delegations of the International Committee of the Red Cross particularly those located outside Europe. By sensitizing different RCRC Movement actors and particularly targeting those regions which offer support in countries of origin and transit, an increasing number of participants are joining the FRWG.
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Results of the Good Practice
- Better meeting the needs of beneficiaries of family reunification.
- Strong working group of exchange and capacity building on family reunification.
- Influencing the policy dialogue with states so that the latter carefully and regularly assess the potential humanitarian impact of new and existing policies on family unity.
Anais Faure Atger, Head of Migration Unit, Red Cross EU Office