REunification PAthways for IntegRation (REPAIR)

Good Practices

REunification PAthways for IntegRation (REPAIR)

People hugging

The project in brief

The project is implemented by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Regional Office for Europe in Austria, France, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. It started in January 2022 and is ending in December 2024. 

The Reunification Pathways for Integration (REPAIR) project, co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), aims to assess and reduce obstacles families face in their family reunification journeys and improve service provision before, during and after families arrive. 

The objective is to help increase the number of people who can benefit from family reunification and create a more welcoming environment to support the integration prospects of beneficiaries of international protection and their families in Europe.

Main activities of the Good Practice

Identification of gaps and needs

One of the first goals of the project is to underline the gaps in the Family Reunification (FR) process. To do so, the first part of the project assesses the barriers (before, during and after FR) faced by those who have already accessed FR and/or are currently in the process. Based on a Community Engagement and Accountability approach, diasporas and beneficiaries are at the center of the evaluation process.

Increased support to families throughout their family reunification journeys

Another part of the project is to increase and expand the National Societies capacities to follow up FR cases. With the support of legal advisers, the National Societies answer FR issues by providing direct help to Beneficiaries of international protection during all the phases of the process. This includes support such as information provision, translation and legal advice, remedies but also material, and logistical support to facilitate the reunification of family members with their sponsors in Europe. Finally, post-departure support activities to facilitate the smooth integration of families is provided, for example through psychosocial support, information provision, language classes, and assistance to local authorities.

Strengthening of capacities

Based on its expertise gained in the previous steps National Societies work on improving national responses to a better FR process. To do so, National Societies train and animate a national network of volunteers dedicated to the follow-up of individual family reunion cases. 

Sharing knowledge and humanitarian diplomacy

The last objective of the project is to share all the knowledge gathered to improve access to family reunification on a global scale, including with authorities, expert organisations and other key stakeholders.

Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice

Red Cross Red Crescent Movement Cooperation: The action in REPAIR project is based on the established network of the RCRC Movement, composed of 191 National Societies, IFRC and ICRC and their Restoring Family Links (RFL) Services. Anchored in International Humanitarian law, Restoring Family Links (RFL) is a key mandate of the RCRC Movement coordinated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Red Cross Red Crescent (RCRC) Movement’s RFL strategy lays the common ground for RFL activities among RCRC National Societies. 

Support from local actors, such as national Red Cross societies: The methodology utilises the local and global reach of Red Cross to facilitate safe and legal Family Reunification (FR), and the integration of reunited families. Through this action the Red Cross taps into its network to support transnational cooperation, each participating National Societies’ network of local branches and volunteers, their auxiliary role and links to governments, and the longstanding cooperation at national and international levels with organisations working on FR including ICRC, Red Cross EU Office, UNHCR, IOM, diasporas and other CSOs. 

Partnerships to support family reunification: all National Societies hold regular meetings with stakeholders already involved in family reunification, in areas where casework and integration support are provided, as well as both nationally and internationally. Project partner National Societies regularly reach out to authorities to raise awareness of family reunion needs. Several events and workshops including stakeholders network meetings, conferences, and trainings are being organised as part of the project.

Co-production with diaspora communities: Key to the methodology of the project is a commitment to a participatory approach involving diaspora communities, who have experience of the family reunification journey, in the design and delivery of the interventions.

Holistic case management to support FR: With the support of legal expertise, Red Cross personnel and trained interpreters, the project partner National Societies provide individual holistic and high-quality follow-up on family reunification cases. Thanks to the project, National Societies have strengthened their support in cooperation with other key stakeholders, benefiting from already established referral pathways and cooperation at the national level to support more individual cases.

People hugging

Partners involved

What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?


As examples:

  • Very long delays at several embassies to receive appointments for submitting FR applications. Even after submission, all partner National Societies report very long delays with the progress of cases, resulting in FR cases and decisions taking up to 2-3 years.
  • Limited definition of “family“ across the countries in the project.
  • Many challenges are linked to the contexts in countries of origin or departure, and the process family members need to undergo to apply for visas, especially if they need to cross international borders, which can be expensive, dangerous, or both. 
  • All partner National Societies also report psychosocial effect and the impact of separation on the dynamics of the family.
  • Gathering supporting documentation, and the time and coordination required to compile necessary documents and evidence throughout the process (analysis of what is required, securing and collecting documentation for the file, verification of visa applications etc.).
  • Additionally, cost is a challenge faced by both applicants and sponsors. Often applicants are in refugee camps or remain in countries with active conflict, making it difficult to collect the extensive and specific evidence required from the responsible authorities
  • When it comes to their integration process, family members in the REPAIR project experience  delays in being granted status, receiving health insurance and financial aid, and accessing housing, resulting often in further separation of the family.

How they were overcome

The REPAIR partners have addressed challenges, e.g. through:

  • All partner Red Cross partner National Societies support legal advisors with gathering evidence for families as part of their casework.
  • The French Red Cross provides direct legal support and work with legal advisors in the litigation phase.
  • Regular advocacy work with key stakeholders at local, national and regional level to help address challenges and remove obstacles.
  • Cooperation and referral in the national context to support individual cases.
  • Work with diaspora communities to better understand the gaps in service provision. 
  • Internal awareness-raising in the RCRC Movement on FR and the possibilities to support families along the FR journeys.
  • Partner National Societies have produced information provision materials to Beneficiaries of international protection to help raise awareness of their rights and the steps to follow to be reunited with their family members in Europe. 
  • The British Red Cross (BRC) has adopted a post-arrival support handbook providing guidance to staff.
  • The BRC produced a Frequently Asked Questions on Family reunification guide for beneficiaries of international protection and practitioners, which was posted on the BRC website, and co-organised and co-facilitated a training event for practitioners on the New Nationality and Borders Bill, and chaired two NGO stakeholder meetings to coordinate on FR advocacy.
A family at an airport

Results of the Good Practice

  • For certain REPAIR partners integration support was very limited. Thanks to the families' needs’ assessment run through the project, the post arrival support is strengthened with better referrals toward other service providers.
  • A number of cases studies are being collected at the project level for further publication and advocacy purposes

In the first 18 months of the project:

  • Number of families accompanied in their family reunion case by the Red Cross National Societies: 172
  • Number of persons reached with the provision of information on family reunion by the Red Cross National Societies: 605

In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries / Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance / Objective 3: Expand access to third-country solutions

The project advocates for sustainable solutions for beneficiaries of international protection by facilitating family reunification, thereby preserving family unity. The ability to experience family life is reportedly pivotal for the integration of refugees and other beneficiaries of international protection who may not have the opportunity elsewhere. Simultaneously, family members can avoid undertaking perilous journeys to reunite with their loved ones, as they benefit from dedicated support for close family reunification, ultimately leading to a safe and secure reunion.

Next steps

Red Cross partner National Societies would like to continue and extend their activities beyond the end of the project, however, its not clear whether the consortium can be maintained without funding beyond the end of the project.

Slovenian Red Cross is in the process of seeking and reviewing options for continuing to provide support, which is secured by the REPAIR project, after the conclusion of the Project. The French Red Cross, the British Red Cross and Austrian Red Cross have established family reunification departments that will continue to work and provide family reunification services beyond the project implementation period. However, the REPAIR project has allowed to expand on the work already carried out: 1) to have dedicated legal advisors to support cases, 2) to tackle complex cases and 3) to expand the work to geographic areas where there are biggest needs.

Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?

Funding will be a critical issue to continue and especially to scale up the REPAIR project.

Submitted by

Borbála Bodolai, Migration Sr Officer, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Europe Regional Office - [email protected]

Contact the project