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    Cities are ready to take in refugee children

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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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    EU Urban Agenda

    The building blocks of an EU
    urban agenda - infographic

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    Solidarity Cities: cities acting for refugee integration



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Mayor of Hannover Belit Onay on Solidarity Cities

Hannover is a cosmopolitan and diverse city, and we regard migration as an integral part of our social reality. The diversity of cultures and the diversity of lifestyles are an intrinsic and fundamental aspect of our urban community. 

The City of Hannover is committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and seeks equality of participation and opportunity in the economic, political, cultural and social life of the city for all its inhabitants, irrespective of where they or earlier generations of their families were born.

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Mayor of St. Gallen Thomas Scheitlin on Solidarity Cities

"St.Gallen is a multifaceted city, where people from over 120 countries of origin live. For a peaceful living together and for successful social and occupational integration, joint efforts are needed. Fair equality of opportunity, participation and protection against discrimination are the core values for a sustainable integration."

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Mayor of Lillehammer Ingunn Trosholmen on Solidarity Cities

"Lillehammer is a small city with a big heart. People with origins from more than 80 countries around the world call Lillehammer home. We are committed to a refugee policy based on humanitarian principles and to offer arriving refugees a quick path to integration. School for children, work-training or jobs for adults, language training and suitable housing are the key factors for successful integration. Lillehammer is also committed to offering a future to young unsupported refugees that arrives without their families and need a community to stand up for them.

Lillehammer is joining the solidarity cities network because we believe in responsibility and solidarity, and in the power of standing together with likeminded cities."

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Cities ready to take in refugee children

Cities across Europe are ready to welcome children from overcrowded refugee camps on the Greek islands. In a letter addressed to the presidents of the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament, they offer to take in unaccompanied children and provide better conditions for them.

"We need to help, and we are here to offer that help,” reads the letter. “Europe needs to step up to provide shelter, comfort and safety.”

The letter is signed by Amersfoort, Amsterdam, Arnhem, Barcelona, Ghent, Groningen, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Tilburg, and Utrecht and offers to relocate about 5,500 unaccompanied children to their cities.

“We are ready to receive them! Each of our cities pledges to accommodate a fair share and abide by the principles of solidarity and responsibility as expressed through the EUROCITIES Solidarity Cities Initiative”, state the cities. “We are ready to work with the national and European authorities, to find the necessary relocation arrangements and realise accommodation solutions.”

EUROCITIES Solidarity Initiative

Within the framework of the Solidarity Cities Initiative launched in 2016, EUROCITIES has supported cities committed to solidarity in the field of refugee reception and integration. Abiding by the principles of humanity and responsibility, the members of this initiative are calling for cooperation among European cities to create more cohesive and inclusive societies.

Read the full letter here.

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Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter on Solidarity Cities

"As a growing city, Munich is and has always been a city of immigrants. Economically and culturally, the state capital has always benefited from migration. Already in the 1990s, Munich started do develop its own municipal refugee policy, emphasizing the integration of refugees. Their integration from the first day, regardless of their respective residence permit, forms the core of this policy. Building on these priniciples, the city voluntarily funds numerous integration measures, projects and initiatives. In accordance with this attitude and in light of the great engagement of Munich‘s civil society in 2015, the Master Plan for the Integration of Refugees was initiated in 2016. Taken together, Munich acts as a solidary city.

Joining the Solidarity Cities network, the city wants to associate with likeminded communities which take a stand for the principles of responsibility and solidarity. Morevoer, Munich aims to further develop the network in cooperation with civil society and the partner communities."

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Mayor of Gaziantep Fatma Şahin on Solidarity Cities

“Gaziantep has implemented various policies focusing on vocational skills training and language education, in order to foster social cohesion, integration and equal opportunities for refugees living in our city. In this way, we also strengthen cohabitation and solidarity in Gaziantep. We support the Solidarity Cities Initiative, and will continue to implement refugee integration in a realistic and sustainable manner.”

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Mayor of Lucerne Beat Züsli on Solidarity Cities

"Lucerne is an open-minded city with a strong sense of solidarity – not only among the city’s inhabitants and tourists. We view our participation in Solidarity Cities as a sign of our commitment to support refugees and asylum-seekers in creating a future and opening up new prospects. The city of Lucerne already ensures social inclusion, equal opportunities, respectful coexistence and human dignity in all stages of life by implementing a variety of measures in schools and assisting children at an early age, as well as facilitating linguistic and professional integration.

In exchange with other European cities, we continue to foster social cohesion and integration."

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Mayor of Kiel Dr Ulf Kämpfer on Solidarity Cities 2

Kiel is open to the world, a city proud of its cultural, ethnic and religious diversity. Kiel’s citizens met the increased influx of refugees as from 2015 with a great amount of support and impressive commitment. At the end of 2018, Kiel declared itself a “safe haven” for refugees rescued at sea. The challenges posed by refugee policy can only be overcome with joint European responsibility and solidarity. We therefore look forward to the exchange with the other European partner communities in “Solidarity Cities”.

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Mayor of Bremen Dr. Carsten Sieling on Solidarity Cities

“Due to its long history as a city of international trade, Bremen has always been a cosmopolitan and tolerant city. We are committed to a refugee policy based on humanitarian principles. As part of the Solidarity Cities Initiative, Bremen will emphasize the significance of cooperation among European cities.”

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Berlin joins Solidarity Cities

The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Mr Michael Müller, said: “We worked with Berlin’s civil society to draft and adopt an overall plan for integration and participation. This strategy paper lays out refugee policy priorities for the work to be done in the coming years and adheres to the principle of ‘Integration from day one.’  With many different measures and projects, we support decent accommodation for refugees, children getting settled into school quickly, training options or university enrollment for young people, finding jobs, and German language classes for all of the newcomers. It’s also important to us that refugees are able to get involved in neighborhood projects or play sports and experience German culture with Berliners.”

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Video of the Solidarity Cities study visit in Milan 8-9 November 2018

The video shows the study visit organised in the city of Milan under the EUROCITIES Solidarity Cities initiative. 

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Solidarity Cities visits in Milan: city-run reception centres and system for economic integration of migrants and refugees

EUROCITIES’ members of the Working Group Migration and Integration and representatives from the European Commission and the OECD visited two key pillars of the reception and integration system of the city of Milan. The field visits were organised on 8 November 2018, back to back with the Integrating Cities Conference VIII – Cities4People: Migrating ideas, inspiring integration and in the framework of the Solidarity Cities Initiative which Milan has joined. The visits aimed to show international participants the characteristics of the models of reception and early and long-term integration exist in Milan. Participants discussed with the city officers in charge of the different services and also talked directly with the migrants and refugees beneficiaries of the services. They provided their inputs and feedbacks during the day as well as on the day after, during a policy learning activity where other cities reflected on the potential transferability of some elements to their local context.

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Mayor of Zurich Corine Mauch on Solidarity Cities

«Cities play a key role in integrating refugees into both society and the economy. Integration can only be accomplished by joint efforts, and its success or failure will shape the future of our cities. Solidarity is becoming ever more important – both as a value and in the form of actions. Zurich is an open city and a city of solidarity. I welcome Solidarity Cities as an important contribution to the successful integration of refugees in Europe.»

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CITIES AND FOUNDATIONS: WORKING TOGETHER TOWARDS INCLUSIVE EDUCATION FOR REFUGEES

EUROCITIES organises on 18 September 2017 from 11:00 to 16:30 an expert meeting focused on city-foundation collaboration in the field of education for refugees and asylum seekers. This event will be hosted by the European Foundation Centre in the Philanthropy House in Brussels.

The event, organised in the framework of the Solidarity Cities Initiative and with the support of the Open Society Education Support Program, will be attended by experts from Think Tanks, European Commission services, European Parliament, NGOS, Foundations and Philanthropies and Representatives of cities members of EUROCITIES.

 It will aim at taking stock of existing initiatives and at exploring possible steps forward to maximise the impact of common work between foundations and cities, through knowledge exchange and transfer of expertise. It will also create vital links between foundations and cities with the hope of seeing examples of city-foundation collaborations in the field of education flourish across Europe.

 We would be extremely happy to count on your participation and your contribution to the debate. Please register at this link before September 14th.

Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala on Solidarity Cities

Thessaloniki receives support from Amsterdam and Zurich on informal education for refugees

“κανείς δε μένει χωρίς πατρίδα όσο θα υπάρχει η Θεσσαλονίκη”

“No one is left without a homeland as long as Thessaloniki exists" Nikiforos Choumno, 14th Century Byzantine Scholar

From 9-12 July, Thessaloniki hosted a delegation from Amsterdam and Zurich, as part of a mentoring visit organised by EUROCITIES and Migration Work. The mentoring visit focused on the city’s plan to create an overarching integration strategy and was prepared in the context of the Solidarity Cities Initiative with support from the Open Society Education Support Programme.

Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, is home to thousands of refugees who were left stranded after the closure of the ‘Balkan Road’ in March 2016. Several camps were opened around the city but the city also has several accommodation programmes in flats and hotels, either managed by the city authority itself or NGOs and international organisations.

Much like Athens, Thessaloniki is committed to making integration a positive experience for refugees and the host society. Yiannis Boutaris, mayor of Thessaloniki, met with the delegation on 10 July to reaffirm the city’s openness and its commitment to transforming its services and institutions. The deputy mayor for education and sports, Giorgios Dimarelos and the councillor in charge of refugee policies Sofia Aslanidou also met the delegation.

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Mayor of Athens Georgios Kaminis addresses the parliamentary assembly of the council of Europe
 

Mayor of Athens Georgios Kaminis addresses the parliamentary assembly of the council of Europe

“More than ever, European cities and local governments can play a crucial role in the protection of the rights of refugees and migrants, and their integration,” today said the Mayor of Athens Georgios Kaminis, addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at the opening of a joint debate on migration.

Mr Kaminis reviewed the measures taken by his Municipality these latest years in order to tackle the refugee crisis. “We currently provide housing in 300 apartments rented by the Municipality, to secure decent living conditions for the refugees. Using European funds and donations we have created a Coordination Center for our city to provide a variety of services addressed to the people in need, gradually focusing on integration,” he explained.

“The migration issue is here to stay and is far from being solved,” Mr Kaminis warned. “Experience has shown that every delay or refusal to face this reality turns into a structural problem that is much harder to solve,” he said, adding that it was a concern for all countries, equally. “The countries of entry cannot carry this heavy burden by themselves,” he stated.

He added that Europe needed to provide answers and practical solutions to the migration challenges by protecting refugees’ fundamental human rights and their right to build a new life in Europe.

“Migrant and refugee presence should be seen as a unique source of wealth for European cities, as a main component of our inclusive and dynamic development,” Mr Kaminis concluded.

Athens Mayor Kaminis awards medal to Amsterdam Mayor Van der Laan for his cooperation with Athens on Migration

On 17th of July the Mayor of Athens Mr. George Kaminis presented the Mayor of Amsterdam Mr. Eberhard van der Laan with the "Medal of Honour and Benefaction" of the City of Athens, and made him honorary citizen of the city. The medal was awarded to Mr. Van der Laan in the presence of the Dutch and Greek ambassadors, as a token of appreciation for the very fruitful cooperation the two cities have had since they signed an MOU in 2014. The two cities cooperate in the fields of innovation, entrepreneurship, migration & integration, policies for drug addicts, the activation of civil society, climate change initiatives and sustainable development.

Mr van der Laan praised Mr Kaminis'  European commitment and hoped that the bridge between Athens and Amsterdam can support cooperation between northern and southern Europe.

The political leadership of both the mayors of Amsterdam and Athens was instrumental in making the launch of Solidarity Cities possible in 2016. Both cities also take part to the EU Urban Partnership on Migration, coordinated by the city of Amsterdam. Amsterdam hosted the latest "High Level Roundtable on migration" of mayors and EU commissioners in February 2017. The next edition will take place in Athens in December. 

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Leeds and Stockholm support refugee education in Milan

A mentoring visit of Leeds and Stockholm to Milan took place from 26 to 29 June in the framework of the Solidarity Cities Initiative. EUROCITIES responded quickly in May to the need of Milan of making progress on the area of reception of unaccompanied minors as well as education for children of families with migrant background.

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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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CITIES’ ACTIONS FOR THE EDUCATION OF REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS

CITIES’ ACTIONS FOR THE EDUCATION OF REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS

EUROCITIES report “Cities and migrants”

2nd implementation report 2015

EUROCITIES report on integration of refugees

Refugee reception and integration in cities