Migration Initiative

Who we are

The Migration Initiative was founded in February 2016 by a group of students concerned about the state of migration situation at hand. The initiative aims to catalyse engagement in places such as Lesvos, Idomeni and Calais, where several students have spent time as volunteers, and concrete action in Geneva along several fronts. While the Migration Initiative is based out of the Graduate Institute of Geneva (IHEID), we are open to engaging with any organisations, initiatives, or individuals who hold to principles in line with our own.


Our Values and Vision

As mobility is a human phenomenon, we aknowledge that we are all migrants. We believe that all human beings deserve the same rights and dignity, and promote respect of all people in forced or voluntary migration, in their individuality and diversity.

Through a variety of projects, we wish to open a space for critical reflexion on human mobility, and facilitate inter-personal exchanges between students – and more generally civil society – and migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. We believe that personal change and mind opening is the first step towards a better future society.


Our Goals

  • Defend migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and other victims of forced displacement rights and denounce inhumane anti-migrant policies
  • Create a platform for exchanges of knowledge and experience to generate new ideas and promote reflection
  • Raise awareness and open a more human perspective on current migration issues
  • Get students engaged with the concrete reality of migration, and reinforce the link between Swiss civil society and migrant communities
  • Promote and participate in the integration of affected groups in Geneva through a variety of social projects


Ongoing projects

  • Language classes

– French courses for refugees at IHEID: based on the “Auditeurs-Refugies” project put in place by the University of Geneva aiming to facilitate refugee access to university courses. We organise French courses twice a week to assist university student refugees in improve their french level. The French courses are held at the Maison de la Paix.

– Lessons in civil protection bunkers: We have also put in place French workshops at the Coudriers refugee shelter focusing on cultural activities and conversations. It is not necessary to be a native speaker to teach French.

– Intensive Summer French course at the Graduate Institute: in collaboration with the Migration Initiative, the IHEID has opened its 3-weeks French course for incoming international students to refugees living in Geneva.

  • Political Reflection

Bi-weekly roundtable on various themes related to migration: the EU-Turkey deal, comparisons of asylum systems across different countries, migration and inequality, etc. These informal discussions are open to all and aim provide a space for debate and reflection on current thematics.

  • Projet d’Essaim d’Accueil
Starting project which goal is to create a network of people in Geneva, willing to welcome each new asylum seeker. Concretely, groups of volunteers are attributed refugee centres according to geographical criterias. Main objective: give a first positive image of Switzerland and counterbalance the messages of closed doors that are often given by the media.
  •  Refugee Scholarship at IHEID
Giving an opportunity to refugees, asylum seekers and other victims of forced dispalcement to continue their study at the Graduate Institute. This programme will initially include scholarships for 4 people, begining in  September 2017, with the possibility of extending it to more in the coming years.
  • Advocacy

– Denouncing current inhumane policies violating the rights of refugees

– Transmission of information from volunteer networks (Calais, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon)

– Participation in campaigns in favour of the rights of migrants (potential partnership with the Parisian association Sciences Po Refugee Help.)

– Creation of a network linking students from other schools interested in involvement with project supporting migrants

– Popular movement/political engagement : Looking to form a working group to identify and stay up to date with/potentially organise popular action in solidarity with migrant and refugee issues

  • Volunteering across Europe

– Using volunteering networks to help put interested students or contacts in touch with people and organisations on the ground

– Organising fundraising events to help support volunteer based organisations


Upcoming projects

  • Language courses:

– Set up French/English to Arab/Farsi/Russian/Spanish/etc. tandems with refugees
– Extend language courses to more civil protection bunkers

  • Link to Swiss civil society

– Presentations to primary and high schools students to sensibilise youth to migration issues
– Organisation of events in public spaces eg. a dinner cooked by Syrians held in a restaurant
– Organising meetings and meals in civil protection shelters

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