22nd Annual National Conference

Beyond Shelter for Refugees and Immigrants:
Moving from Protection to Integration



ECDC Conference on African Refugees and Immigrants


As a result of continued terror attacks in many parts of the world, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is faced with major challenges. More than half of the nationís governors have said Syrian refugees are not welcome in their states. The House of Representatives has passed a bill to stop the admission of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Misinformation and fear about refugees are spreading in our communities, competing with the traditionally welcoming attitude America has shown to those most in need of protection and aid.

ECDCís National Annual Conference in April 2016 comes at this pivotal time and will provide an opportunity to collectively discuss these issues, which in turn will enable us to better educate the public about refugees, and focus on strategies that strengthen relationships with local community partners. By the end of the conference, ECDC hopes attendees will have the tools to respond effectively to todayís challenges and continue to welcome refugees and provide the services they need. This is especially important because rising global conflict has created what is considered to be the worst refugee crisis since World War II due to the ongoing strife in the Congo, Burundi, Nigeria, Somalia as well as in the Middle East, and Asia. Our work in the U.S. refugee resettlement program has never been more critical.

The 2016 conference theme focuses on two central topics within resettlement, protection and integration. For refugees fleeing perilous situations in their home countries, protection in a secondary country is the initial focus. Once reaching this second country, the focus shifts to resettlement in a third country, where the refugees will be able to focus on self-sufficiency and meaningful long-term integration. To achieve that, refugees are provided with various services and support systems, including English language training, vocational and skills development training, cultural orientation, and job placement assistance. Ultimately, it is through these programs that refugees develop confidence in their new environment, engage in civic activities, and become an integral part of society.

With the aim of strengthening these programs, ECDCís conference will facilitate and encourage dialogue on protection and integration by bringing together key players from the international, federal, state, and local arenas. These leaders will address the overall political climate affecting refugees and refugee resettlement, as well as the challenges and best practices in refugee integration. In addition, refugees themselves will share their perspectives on resettlement and integration. We anticipate an engaging conversation between presenters and attendees that will bring forth awareness, public education, and new ideas, strengthening refugee programs as a whole.