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Conference "Housing and integrating refugees": Conference report

The Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institut (ABI), together with the International Department of Caritas Germany and the Catholic University of Applied Sciences Freiburg, organised a conference on the topic of ‘Housing and Integrating Refugees: Innovative Best Practices from around the Globe’ in April 2018. The conference aimed to 1) highlight practical and original solutions for when it comes to housing and integrating refugees; 2) draw lessons from the Global South for the Global North and 3) bring academics together with practitioners working on the issue.

In order to fulfil this ambitious undertaking, a total of 125 speakers, refugees, practitioners, academics and students gathered at headquarters of  the International Department of Caritas Germany and dedicated two days to debating and listening to ideas on the topic. This included a variety of formats including keynote lectures on topics ranging from humanitarianism and protecting the urban displaced (Caroline Wanjiku Kihato, University of Johannesburg) as well as completely rethinking of how to work with displaced people from vulnerable populations to business entrepreneurs ready to unfold their own potential (Killian Kleinschmidt, Innovation Planning Agency, Switxboard). Unpacking buzzwords in refugee protection like ‘best practices’ was another subject of discussion (Katharina Inhetveen, University of Siegen), as was the innovative potential of a matching system when (re-)settling displaced people (Will Jones, Royal Holloway). Panels with academics and practitioners including legal scholars, social workers, anthropologists, psychologists, urban planners and political scientists working on Indonesia, Kenya or Jordan complemented the keynotes. Participants also had the chance to interact with speakers through breakout groups and a poster session. Finally, a number of participants were refugees themselves, and thus were able to contribute their very unique perspectives and fulfil the ideal of speaking with refugees not about them.

The event was funded by the German Foundation for Peace Research and the UNO Flüchtlingshilfe and also received a grant from the Office for Migration und Integration (City of Freiburg). Funding was also provided by the International Department of Caritas Germany and the ABI.

A full programme is available here.