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.

A first visit concerned two different reception centres, to capture the Italian national model of CAS-Centres for Extraordinary Reception (first level of reception of asylum seekers) and SPRAR - Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (second level of reception for refugees, more focused on inclusion). The first visit to the ‘Casa Chiaravalle’ presented the project ‘Insieme Casa Chiaravalle’ (Together Casa Chiaravalle). This building, confiscated from the mafia in the Lombardy region, was inaugurated in May 2018. The house was converted into a shelter mainly for Italian and foreign women, especially victims of violence, abuse, torture and trafficking. In Casa Chiaravalle women are helped to start a new life. Casa Chiaravalle also hosts a section that works as a reception centre for asylum seekers (CAS), while they are waiting for the outcome of their asylum application.

After this fruitful exchange, the group visited the ‘Casa Monlué’, an old school now managed by a not-for-profit organisation following a public call for tenders issued by the city of Milan. The building has been turned into a centre that hosts refugees within the national Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (SPRAR) run by the municipality of Milan and funded and coordinated by the Italian Ministry of Interior.

A second visit concerned the Centre for Job orientation and Placement (CELAV) of the city of Milan. The goal of CELAV is to promote the professional and socio-economic integration of people, above all people in need of greater support. There are various specialised teams in CELAV: the philosophy of the centre is to work on the complexity and specificity of the different needs, avoiding standardised interventions. One of the teams focuses on refugees and asylum seekers.  CELAV represents a successful model in which the city authorities work together with the private sector: a cooperative dealing with the orientation and support to the users and the companies hiring them. Another peculiarity is the capacity of CELAV to offer a complete set of services: information, orientation, take in charge of the disadvantage person, job placement.

During the visit the team working for migrants and refugees’ labour integration presented the services offered at the centre – like the ‘Bella Milano’- information about its users and the results achieved thus far. Some of the centre’s younger clients even shared their stories with the city representatives. Through ‘Bella Milano’ (Beautiful Milan) asylum seekers living in the reception centres volunteer together with Milanese citizens in taking care of public spaces in the city (cleaning of green spaces, emptying the bins, etc). These vocational activities aim to foster the culture of integration and allow the refugees to experience life outside the centres, practice their Italian language and establish a positive relationship with the neighbourhood they live in.

To end the visits, the members of the Working Group have been invited to meet young refugees and migrants at Fondazione Umanitaria (‘Humanitarian Foundation’). This historical not-for-profit organisation in Milan, partners up with CELAV to implement professional training paths for migrants and refugees.

A video of the visits will be produced by EUROCITIES thanks to the EaSI grant from the European Commission.

To mark World Refugee Day (June 20), mayors from more than 50 cities around the world are calling on all local authorities and municipalities to join them in welcoming and including refugees in their communities.   The announcement follows the release yesterday (June 19) of new figures by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency that show a continuation of a five-year upward trend in the number of people displaced by conflict or persecution worldwide'.

 In the face of ever higher levels of forced displacement - reflected in the still high number of arrivals of refugees in Europe – European cities, including Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Braga, Brighton, Brussels, Ljubljana, Manchester, Nicosia, Sheffield, Turin, Vienna and Warsaw have joined together to show solidarity at this crucial time for people forced to flee.


"On this Word Refugee Day, the City of Nicosia embraces the «Journey of Solidarity». Today we stand for refugee rights, we stand in support of all those people who have been forced to flee their homes. We feel this is what humanity dictates but more so this is what our recent history demands, when not long ago we had to flee our homes. Cities face common challenges but working together can find answers towards a better future for all."

Constantinos Yiorkadjis, Mayor of Nicosia

 The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, praised the communities and individuals that are a positive force for inclusion:

 “Cities #WithRefugees sends an important message of solidarity with refugees. With the majority of refugees now living in towns and cities, mayors and community leaders play a critical role in mobilising support, providing services and opportunities, and helping refugees become members of communities. As we work towards a Global Compact on Refugees, it is imperative to recognize and support of local communities to welcome refugees.”

 The Cities #WithRefugees statement also highlights the increasingly important role cities have taken on in hosting refugees.  Nearly two out of three refugees settle in urban areas whose residents are often the first to help them upon arrival.

 Solidarity Cities, EUROCITIES’ initiative on the management of refugees in Europe, has joined UNHCR #WithRefugees initiative. Solidarity Cities promotes city-to-city capacity building and learning to improve policy on integration, and gets cities to commit to hosting refugees.

 At the global level – UN member states have been developing a Global Compact on Refugees to transform the way the international community responds to refugee crises and secure more predictable and equitable support for refugees and the countries and communities which host them. Cities have a vital role to play.

 The Cities #WithRefugees initiative is part of UNHCR’s ongoing #WithRefugees campaign, launched in 2016 to support the development of the global compact on refugees. To date the campaign has almost 2 million signatures to its core petition and approaching 19 million actions in support of refugees.

 The mayors are encouraging other cities to join the global effort and sign on.

“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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

The CITIES-GROW (“Integration of migrants through economic activity in cities”) project will be coordinated by EUROCITIES (the network of major cities in Europe) with the support of Migration Policy Group, Migration Work-CIC and Migration Policy Institute, and will involve the active participation of 16 major cities in Europe:

Athens, Barcelona, Birmingham, Brighton & Hove, Dresden, Gdansk, Ghent, Helsinki, Lisbon, Munich, Nantes, Nicosia, Riga, Rotterdam, Tampere, Utrecht

CITIES-GROW will be a continuation of the ImpleMentoring project and will be built on the mentoring methodology which it successfully developed, tested and improved. This project built on the experience and success of other previous EIF funded EUROCITIES local integration projects (MIXITIES, DIVE and INTI-Cities) by shifting the focus from peer reviews and standard-setting towards policy implementation and concrete actions.

For any question please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0032 2 552 08 80

Cities strengthen their response to the refugee situation today with the launch of Solidarity Cities in Athens. An initiative of Giorgios Kaminis, mayor of Athens, Solidarity Cities will consolidate ongoing efforts at local level to receive and integrate refugees and will reinforce these by providing a platform for cities to exchange knowledge and expertise on this highly topical issue.

The initiative was launched today in Athens during the EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum, following a political discussion between city leaders on how cities can better work together on refugee integration and reception.

EUROCITIES today launches a report on how major European cities are managing the reception and integration of refugees.

The report is the result of a survey carried out among EUROCITIES members and offers new insights into the situation in 34 different cities in 17 EU member states.

EUROCITIES calls for direct access to EU migration funds

Ritva Viljanen, deputy mayor of Helsinki, called for direct access for cities to EU Asylum, Migration & Integration Funding (AMIF) during a panel discussion hosted by European Commission DG Home on 29 September.

Cities of refuge: EUROCITIES members take

Johanna Rolland, EUROCITIES president and mayor of Nantes, explains how cities are showing leadership when it comes to welcoming refugees.

Cities are at the forefront of the asylum crisis

Anna Lisa Boni, EUROCITIES secretary general, explains the challenges cities face in dealing with the current asylum crisis; this article originally appeared in EurActiv.

EUROCITIES joins asylum discussions with MEPs

We shared our cities' experiences of dealing with asylum and migration at a LIBE committee meeting in the European Parliament.

Cities play important role in receiving & integrating asylum seekers

In our statement on asylum in cities, we call for a comprehensive EU migration policy that recognises the challenges faced by cities and local level solutions.

Local politicians discuss asylum and migration

Nine local politicians met in Osmangazi on 11 March for a closed discussion on asylum and migration issues in cities.