The so-called “refugee crisis” continues to dominate media headlines and national debates, especially around elections. Far-right groups and populist politicians are still winning votes on the back of their anti-refugee rhetoric. The over-arching narrative, propagated by the xenophobic forces and an often-docile media, remains that refugees are a burden on Europe’s economy and societies, and that the new arrivals cannot – or will not – integrate.

But is anyone listening to the refugees themselves? Does the conversation on refugee policy include the voices of the newcomers? Do we take account of their needs, concerns and priorities? At Friends of Europe, we believe that for Europe and the rest of the world to flourish and thrive, the conventional and by now tired anti-refugee narrative needs to change and that to do so, newcomers must be included in discussions about their own futures.

Friends of Europe’s latest discussion paper tries to do just that. ‘Real people, true stories: refugees for more inclusive societies’ shares the personal stories of Nasima Razmyar, Tareq Hadhad, Robert Hakiza and others to show how they left their homes as refugees, to become politicians, entrepreneurs and community leaders around the world. We also asked them to give us practical recommendations, based on their experiences, on how to change and improve the current systems. And they were more than happy to give us their recommendations on how to make societies more inclusive.

The publication is divided into four parts:

Part 1: Work
Part 2: Education
Part 3: Inclusion
Part 4: Narrative

Download the discussion paper in full