ISSN: 1550-7521

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Refugees Re-Settled in Small Towns: Will they Stay or will they Go?


The recent paper “Everyday life as a refugee in a rural setting – what determines a sense of belonging and what role can the local community play in generating it?” published in Journal of Rural Studies explores into refugees placed in small towns in Denmark; their everyday life, what factors are important for whether they plan to stay and what role the local communities in the towns can play in this. The survey is based on 43 interviews in 2016/2017 with refugees and local volunteers in seven small towns. The refugees are mainly from Syria but also Eritreans, Iraqis and Somalis are part. The paper shows that the new everyday life and feelings of belonging is challenged by structural factors such as lack of cheap rental housing and transport options in the new rural settings and the fact that the refugees are often originally from cities and would have preferred to be settled in one. The refugees have very busy everyday lives commuting to language lessons and jobs most often far from the small town affording little free time to spend in the town. Some towns seem ’better at integration’ and fostering local social relations than others. The development of local social relations depends on whether there are other migrants in the town as well as active local people helping refugee newcomers. Local volunteers can play an important role in helping refugees to navigate in their new everyday life, ‘linking’ them to the public sector as well as to the rest of the local community but they cannot do everything especially addressing structural factors like lack of cheap rental housing is a strugglet.

Lise Herslund*

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