Shared knowledge and common practices between relevant actors is an essential mechanism for the promotion of migrant integration across the EU. Communication and mutual learning helps public and private entities, NGOs, local authorities and institution to build better strategies in the field of migration and integration. In this framework, the Mediterranean Migration Network was established in order to strengthen policy cooperation and facilitate knowledge exchange between EU Member States and other relevant migrant integration stakeholders on European, national, regional and local level.
The Mediterranean Migration Network (MMN) in collaboration with Xenios Polis, Athens, Greece, organized a two-day study visit in Athens for 7 stakeholders who represented public, private bodes and NGOs from Cyprus. The purpose of the study visit was for the participants from Cyprus to discuss and exchange views on the processes and policies established in Athens.
The study visit took place on the 29th and 30th of March 2018 with participants from CARDET Ltd, INNOVADE LI, Ministry for Migration Policy Greece, Municipality of Athens, Hellenic National Committee of UNICEF, ESTIA (UNHCR), EPLO European Public Law Organization, Deree - American College of Greece, European Funds Unit – Ministry of Interior in Cyprus, Migration Department – Cyprus, “Hope for Children" CRC Policy Center - Cyprus, Cyprus Pedagogical Institute, Migrant Information Center - Cyprus
The first day of the visit was dedicated to a series of presentations and round tables with stakeholders from Athens in an effort to discuss and analyze the framework of migration and integration in Athens and Greece in general.
The context of the discussions that took place on the first day concerned numbers and facts about migrants and refugees who have arrived in Greece over the past few years. In addition, there were presentations on the ways that Greece is called to manage the increase of migration waves along with their integration in Greece and their educational needs.
What is more, the Deputy Mayor of migrants and refugees of Athens made a reference to the ways and efforts of the municipality for housing. Hence, a representative of UNICEF in Greece, referred to their work with unaccompanied minors, while the representatives of the Cypriot organizations presented their own work and efforts on the integration of migrants and refugees in Cyprus. Next on the meeting’s sessions, participants discussed the educational needs of migrants and refugees in Greece, along with suggestions on new holistic learning approaches.
Last but not least, the first day of the meeting concluded with the presentation of 3 actions currently taking place in Greece: MKO Apostoli that works toward housing and shelters for refugees and unaccompanied minors, Eplo which promotes European Values through Public Law and Governance in a Dialog for Civilizations and “From Camp to Camp” which gives opportunities to displaced students to continue their education; provide them with knowledge, skills and academic credits they can use either in Greece or in any other European country they move to in the future; help them get out of the camps and become integrated in local colleges; and offer young refugees hope for the future.
The second day concerned a number of visits in places of home and reception of migrants and refugees as follows:
- MOSAIC (home for refugee women)
- ESTIA: Emergency support to integration and accommodation
- Asylum Service, Government Office in Athens, Greece
The MMN teams would like to express special thanks to Mr. Vassilis Bokolas and Ms Andigoni Vamvakari from Xenios Polis along with Ms Maria Efthimiou from Anaptyxiaki Athens for their extensive help and contributions for making MMN study visit to Athens successful.