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    Solidarity Cities
    an initiative on the management of the refugee crisis

    launched by the city of Athens under the framework of the EUROCITIES network

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    Solidarity Cities: cities acting for refugee integration

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Milan and Thessaloniki to receive support on education for refugees

Thanks to a grant provided by the Open Society Foundations' "Education support program", EUROCITIES is organising two mentoring visits to cities on the front line for the reception and integration of newly arrived asylum seekers.

Milan (27-29 June) will receive a delegation consisting of experts from Leeds (UK) and Stockholm (Sweden), accompanied by Ceri Hutton (Migration Work) and Salvatore Sofia (EUROCITIES). The aim of the visit is to look at and provide recommendations on how the city works with the provision of education to unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the city and currently in reception centres. 

Thessaloniki (10-12 July) will receive a delegation consisting of experts from Amsterdam and Zurich (tbc), accompanied by Sue Lukes (Migration Work) and Thomas Jezequel (EUROCITIES). The visit will look at the role of informal education  in fostering integration and community building. 

The mentoring visit aims to gather information and exchange ideas, to change attitudes locally, among a range of colleagues and stakeholders, and win their commitment to tackling the gaps or barriers, which have been previously identified. Arriving in the implementing city, the mentor with the facilitator will have three main objectives:

    Interactive enquiry: to test and develop with local actors the ideas which the mentoring city and the implementing city formed provisionally in advance.
    Help the Implementing city to prepare the ground locally for change.
    Reviewing and endorsing the action plan showing how the IC will achieve that change.

Throughout their visit, the mentoring city and visiting colleagues will conduct an interactive enquiry to find out about current practice in the implementing city whilst working with implementing city colleagues to explore options for improvement.

After meetings and interviews the mentor and facilitator will review what they have learnt and feed their observations back to the implementing city. The mentoring city and implementing city with the support of the facilitator will start the process of action planning, to lead to its first draft of an action plan.

The involvement of a broader range of stakeholders should is always arranged. The implementing city and mentoring city will discuss an initial rough version of the action plan with these stakeholders and key city officers. Their feedback will inform further revisions by the implementing city and visiting team, so that a complete draft of the action plan will be ready before the visit ends.

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Mayor of Nicosia Constantinos Yiorkadjis on Solidarity Cities

CITIES GROW PROJECT Call for a Video Editor

In the context of the CITIES GROW project, aiming to implement the Integrating Cities Charter in which European cities commit to the integration of migrants, EUROCITIES asbl is looking for a professional editor to edit and compile six videos produced under the auspices of the project to be produced as follows:

 2 video clips showcasing good practices in 2 European cities during ‘Study visits’ (foreseen duration: around 4 minutes each)

 4 video clips showcasing the policy implementation of good practices in 4 European Cities during ‘Mentoring visits’ (foreseen duration: around 6 minutes each)

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EUROCITIES launches CITIES GROW project with 16 members in Brussels

The official launch meeting of the CITIES GROW project ‘Cities integrating refugees and migrants through economic activities’ was held on 15-16 May in Brussels. Representatives from all 16 partner cities (Athens, Barcelona, Birmingham, Brighton & Hove, Dresden, Gdansk, Ghent, Helsinki, Lisbon, Munich, Nantes, Nicosia, Riga, Rotterdam, Tampere, Utrecht) as well 3 expert partner organisations (Migration Policy Group, Migration Policy Institute and Migration Work) attended the two day meeting. EUROCITIES, lead partner of the project, organised and coordinated the event while Migration Work provided training on the methodology to all partners.

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Barcelona and Naples join forces within Solidarity Cities for refugees

Jaume Asens, Deputy Mayor for Citizenship Rights of the Barcelona City Council, met with the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, on the occasion of the Italian city's accession to the Solidarity Cities initiative. They explored how to increase cooperation between cities to address the refugee crisis.

In a statement Sunday, Jaume Asens highlighted the tradition of collaboration between the two cities and announced that the incorporation of Naples will allow to "share best practices of both cities regarding policies of reception and integration of migrants and refugees."

The Solidarity Cities Initiative welcomes cities which want to have open reception policies based on social rights, with the objective of sharing information and technical assistance, in addition to lobbying for better EU financing of integration at local level.

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Immigrant integration in Amsterdam: The story of Tesfalem

Refugees who have received the right of permanent residence in the Netherlands are called 'statushouders' (literally 'status holders').  Amsterdam City Council aims to offer these status holders the opportunity to settle in the city as quickly as possible, either through supporting them in finding a job, going into education or starting a business. If this is not feasible at first, they will initially receive care and support towards social participation.

 Tesfalem is from Eritrea. His wanderings eventually took him to the Netherlands. Pending his application for permanent residence, he lived in Haarlem. After he received his status, he moved to Amsterdam where he enrolled in the Amsterdam Statushouders Programme. Ingrid was appointed as Tesfalem's client manager. 'I did not do an assessment,’ says Tesfalem. 'But I did have an extensive interview with Ingrid, which meant we got to know each other a bit. Ingrid wanted to know about my educational background, what kind of diplomas I had and what kind of work I had done in my home country.'

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Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake on Solidarity Cities

Amsterdam hosts political roundtable on refugee integration

Gathered in Amsterdam on 7 February for the second edition of the political roundtable on refugees, mayors of cities belonging to the EUROCITIES network (Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Gdansk, Ghent, Riga) kept up the pressure on the EU institutions to obtain direct EU funding for cities coping with refugee reception and integration issues, while reaffirming their willingness to play a direct role in the EU’s planned relocation system

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Europe must empower its cities to respond to refugee crisis

By Laia Ortiz, Barcelona deputy mayor for social rights and chair of the Eurocities Social Affairs Forum.

The refugee crisis is one we must address in our cities. I know this from experience: cities like Barcelona have become hubs for thousands of people seeking international protection.

Long before Germany opened its borders in September 2015, ahead of the height of the crisis, cities like mine have been calling for a more constructive and humanitarian response.

Through Eurocities we have a strong and united voice. Barcelona is among the 139 major European cities calling on the EU institutions for greater solidarity and a more humanitarian response to the crisis.

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Open Democracy covers Solidarity Cities

European city councils have launched an initiative to co-ordinate their responses to the migrant crisis, in defiance of the apathy of some national governments.

Nationalism, if it ever left us, is definitively back in vogue. With nationalist parties resurgent throughout Europe, more and more European nationals are vesting their political hopes in national governments. But for those new migrants without increasingly-coveted EU citizenship, the institutions most likely to come to their aid are not nation states, but local and city governments.

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Refugee solidarity: the view from Ghent

A coordinator from the Ghent Taskforce on Refugees outlines that the best approach to integrating refugees is one grounded in solidarity, not charity.

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National governments are failing refugees, so cities must step up to meet the challenge

A lack of political will and a hulking bureaucracy frustrate efforts to find a solution to the migrant crisis at the national level. Multilevel governance is the answer.

Towards the end of the summer and the autumn of 2015 some countries, specially, Germany and Sweden experienced an unprecedented flow of refugees who were fleeing the conflicts of Syria, Iraq and Eritrea. More than one million people were hosted in a very short time with the effort of the whole public administration and the citizens. Many cities in those countries collaborated in an extraordinary effort made by the state, regions and länder to solve the human but also the immense logistic challenge.

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'Migrants are here, they are living, and we have to guarantee their human rights'

'Migrants are here, they are living, and we have to guarantee their human rights'

Laia Ortiz discusses how Barcelona is trying to forge its own progressive integration policy for refugees, despite the constraints put on it by the Spanish government and the European Union.

Laia Ortiz is the Deputy Mayor for Social Rights at the City of Barcelona, and a close ally of Mayor Ada Colau. She discusses how Barcelona is trying to forge its own progressive integration policy for refugees, despite the constraints put on it by the Spanish government and the European Union.

'In responding to the refugee crisis, we think cities are among the key actors'

'In responding to the refugee crisis, we think cities are among the key actors'

Belinda Pyke, Director for Migration and Mobility at the European Commission DG Home, discusses how the European Commission can get cities and regions involved in forming integration strategies for migrants and refugees.


Open society grant for EUROCITIES to support education for refugees and asylum seekers

In the framework of its Solidarity Cities initiative, EUROCITIES concluded an agreement with the foundation “Open Society Institute” for 2017. As part of the activities of the Open Society’s “Education support programme”, EUROCITIES will receive dedicated funding to organise two mentoring visits in 2017 in the field of Education for asylum seekers and refugees in cities. These visits will follow the mentoring methodology used in the ImpleMentoring project.

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Cities GRoW project approved: Integration of migrants through economic activity in cities

DG Home of the European Commission confirmed this week that the Cities-Grow project application was approved and would take place from 2017. This is a great news for EUROCITIES and for the 16 European cities involved in this call. 

More than ever in the context of the refugee crisis, European city leaders and decision makers need pragmatic, relevant and practical advice to address migrant integration challenges and develop effective migrant integration strategies to help reap on the potential of immigration.


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Message of support by Mayor of Ghent Daniel Termont

Message of support by Mayor of Ghent Daniel Termont

Daniel Termont, mayor of Ghent, sent a video address to the attendant of the political session organised in the framework of the Social Affairs Forum of EUROCITIES in Athens on 17 October, in support of the Solidarity Cities Initiative. 


Official launch of the Solidarity Cities Initiative

The Solidarity Cities initiative was announced at a press conference in Athens on 17th October 2016, following a closed political session gathering 23 mayors and vice-mayors of the EUROCITIES network. Mayor of Athens Georgios Kaminis and vice-mayor of Barcelona Laïa Ortiz presented to journalists the concept of the initiative and the main demands of European cities in terms of direct funding for reception and integration and better involvement of cities in the shaping of migration policy at European and national level. 

Interview with Georgios Kaminis, Mayor of Athens

Greece has been on the frontline of the migrant crisis. How much of this inflow has Athens had to handle?

When the crisis erupted–in August 2015–Athens started receiving hundreds of refugees on a daily basis. More than 900,000 refugees came to Greece last year, the majority of which passed through Athens. So, you can understand the challenge that we had to deal with especially when the country was found completely unprepared to deal with these massive inflows. We were the first municipality to react providing a space for the first camp in Greece that can now host around 2,000 refugees. We had to offer urgent solutions to a problem so largely affecting the city’s normality. After the closing of the borders, flows have decreased but the EU-Turkey agreement is still at stake and we need to be constantly prepared to welcome new waves of refugees and provide emergency relief.

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EUROCITIES report “Cities and migrants”

2nd implementation report 2015

EUROCITIES report on integration of refugees

Refugee reception and integration in cities