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ICFFR Conference ‘Refugee and migrant children and families-Preserving family life through hard challenges’

The International Commission on Couple and Family Relations (ICCFR) together with the International Centre on Familiy Studies (Cisf) organised a conference in Rome, on 14-16 November, to discuss how families and children are impacted by dislocation and relocation and at how practitioners and policy-makers can ease or solve the difficulties they encounter and help to preserve family life.

The International Commission on Couple and Family Relations (ICCFR) was established in 1953 and has a wide international membership including associations and individuals involved in couple and family therapy, relationship education, social work, mediation, psychology and psychiatry, research, social policy, family courts and the law, and family organisations. The Commission sustains a groundbreaking interdisciplinary dialogue about couple and family relations and the support provided for them by the professions, mainly through annual conferences.

The conference was organised over four sessions led by experts followed by “discussion groups”, in which participants could freely debate the contents of the speeches from the plenary sessions or any topics related to the theme of the conference that participants may themselves raise. Additionally, a number of workshops looked into various aspects of the issue.

COFACE Families Europe joined the conference with a workshop on the right to education for migrant children in Europe, based on our 2019 position paper on building inclusive societies and the policy brief on the COFACE members in action in supporting the inclusion of migrant families.

We highlighted the policy framework, challenges and policies in place to ensure the right to education for migrant children in Europe. We illustrated the holistic two-generation approach of COFACE Families Europe to education and its actions in terms of advocacy and projects carried by members in Belgium, Spain, Bulgaria, Finland and Greece addressing children in migration, the hosting community, parents, and their peers.

After two days of intense exchange some conclusion of this gathering might be that there are many commonalities across our planet in the perception of migration, in the narratives around it. It is clear that migration is a complex phenomenon, which requires complex answers and a human rights-based and culturally sensitive approach. In this sense, the right to family life, to family unity, and to family reunification can be an effective way to look at migration from a family perspective.

Background

Sven Iversen, Managing Director of Arbeitsgemeinschaft der deutschen Familienorganisationen (German member of COFACE Families Europe), was elected Chairman of the International Commission on Family and Couple Relations (ICCFR). Francesco Belletti, Head of the International Centre on Family Studies (Cisf), was elected Vice-Chairman. Anita Rodarte, family lawyer from the USA, became the new treasurer. Sven Iversen replaces Anne Berger, also a lawyer for family law from the USA.

For more information, see COFACE Families Europe presentation on the right to education for migrant children in Europe here