Migration is an everlasting topic, highly prioritized in the majority of EU decision making processes and policy development in all fields. Several initiatives, practices and tools implemented at European and local level in order to enhance the management of documented migration, meet the challenges of undocumented migration flows, and boost the positive effects of migration on development.
In regards to the above, the Mediterranean Migration Network (MMN) is an initiative established to promote collaboration and exchange of good practices among public and private stakeholders active in the fields of migration and integration.
Within this framework and in an effort to empower and raise the awareness of public and private stakeholders, MMN organized four workshops on “Migration flows and integration management” on the 15th, 16th, 26th of May and 16th of June at the Municipality of Agios Athanasios Limassol, Municipality of Engomi, Municipality of Deryneia and the Municipality of Paphos respectively. The workshops carried out focused on informing stakeholders about the operations of the Network as well as on training them on issues relevant to the diversity and management at social level. In addition, during the workshops participants were presented the legal framework governing migrants in Cyprus along with building a successful action plan suitable for the actions and activities of their own working environment.
The workshops were attended by representatives of public and private bodies as well as local authorities and NGOs working closely with migration and integrations issues.
Dr. Stefanos Spaneas led the workshops that were split in two main sections. During the first part of the workshops, participants had the opportunity to get an insight of the design process and the development of community programs based on a system of values, techniques and skills that contributed towards improving the quality of life of communities through strategic planning and action plan.
The second part of the workshops focused on an indicative example of a community action plan for migrants and socially excluded / vulnerable groups.
Throughout the workshops, good practices were presented as guides for future implementation in the Cypriot context. Participants had an active role during the workshops in terms of identifying the main challenges of migration today and by addressing examples from their own professional environment.
Interesting ideas were presented focusing on vulnerable migrant groups that need financial and social assistance. What is more, participants raised their concerns is relation to the needs that communities have for change and the adaptation to new ideals for mixed societies without most of the times the relevant interest from the responsible authorities or people in key positions. Nonetheless, participants noted that the workshops were ideal for them since they were given “examples and guidelines for handling and monitoring issues relevant to migration and integration in their professional environment autonomously” along with “educational material and good practices implementation”. In addition, they reflected that the “discussions and examples” took place during the workshops helped them to shape a better view on the topics presented.
Cyprus received an increasing number of asylum applications, as well as migration flows. Thus, MMN finds it exceptionally important to develop the skills of those involved in migration in order to eliminate the integration process of these people. Strengthening cooperation and collaboration among other EU organizations (and where possible third country organizations), takes place through various activities and it involves several actors active in migration and integration. This is also one of the main MMN goals. Hence, MMN drafted various activities that includes, among others, meetings with EU and International organizations, round tables – face to face discussions, collection and publication of good practices, interactive workshops, online learning opportunities, educational visits, international conferences, policy papers, strategies and practices for Implementation by stakeholders (including the public sector), presence in mass media and scientific publications.
Today's reality has accelerated the need for adopting set policies for the effective and smooth integration of migrants into the Cypriot context. As a result, the workshops designed and delivered by the MMN, are essential for promoting the distribution of knowledge, the exchange of good practices both at the theoretical and the practical level as well as to build the capacities of professionals who are in key positions.
All four workshops were carried out in Greek and were provided free of charge. Participants also received a certificate of attendance. Within the following months, the MMN is planning to develop two more workshops at the Municipality of Agios Dometios, Nicosia and the Municipality of Agios Athanasios, Limassol. The topic of the two upcoming workshops is: "Training, management, collaboration and coordination of social institutions and public stakeholders working towards integration of Third Country Nationals". All the material developed and provided during the workshops, along with the results from each session are accessible through the MMN e-library.