How to better integrate young refugees in schools discussed at 'Simulation' conference at the UN in Vienna

"Integration of young refugees in Viennese schools" was the topic of a simulation conference held at the Vienna International Centre (VIC) on 2 May 2013 with 60 students from three schools classes in Vienna participating.

Taking on the role of school directors, teachers, civil servants, students and parents from Austria and those seeking refuge in Austria, the youngsters discussed the different aspects of a successful integration and what needs to be done by each of the actors to make it a reality in Viennese schools.

In five different working groups the participants discussed issues such as rules of conduct, various expectations, and joint activities under the guidance of moderators of the initiative Wiener Charta. The recommendations will be part of the first "Viennese Students Charta on living together in schools" and presented to relevant local politicians.

"The discussions are important to know the different perspectives on this issue and to understand each other. Everybody should be treated equally, because we are all humans," said Verena Kempf, a participant from the Berufschule Zahntechnik in the 12th district. Her class mate Niklas Töpfl agrees, stressing the need to support others whenever necessary.

Organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the office of the UN-High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the association "Afghanische Jugendliche - NEUER START in Österreich" with the support of the Wiener Charta and hosted by UNIS Vienna, the conference aims to raise awareness about refugees and integration among students and foster respect for diversity particularly in Viennese schools where in some areas the percentage of students who are migrants tend to be very high.

The conference was part of the 3 rd Viennese Integration Week - an event series to promote diversity in Vienna, organized by BUM Media Wien and various cooperation partners