Three questions for Sammy Mahdi, Chair of the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CDV) party and former Belgian State Secretary for Asylum and Migration

Three Questions To

Why is it so important today to empower migrants and refugees in Europe by letting them contribute to the local communities?

Sammy Mahdi: People need to have meaningful relations, they want to feel useful and to be accepted. The means to find these building blocks in life are all about participation and contribution to local communities. We can’t pause the life of migrants and refugees but we need to invest in their well-being, whether they can stay or not. The empowerment by governments and civil society is essential to break the barriers and close the gap towards contributing to the local communities.

What are some key ingredients for the successful and long-term inclusion of newcomers?

Sammy Mahdi: For me, it’s about learning and integrating through participation. First and foremost, you’ll learn a common language by engaging in voluntary or paid work. By doing so, one’s feeling of self-worth will rise and give the opportunity to engage on a deeper level. The next steps of integration will subsequently follow when people can interact and involve in meaningful relations.

How can we make decision-making more inclusive and accessible for migrants and refugees?

Sammy Mahdi: Everyone should be able to have their voice heard. Through civil society and individuals, decision-makers should include ideas stemming from migrants and refugees. Definitely, when it’s about the empowerment of integration, we should learn from those with real-life experience to build an evidence-based policy.

Sammy Mahdi chairs the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CDV) party and previously held the position of Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration of Belgium.