The Athens Coordination Center for Migrant and Refugee issues is building partnerships with local and international stakeholders in order to improve policies and related practices affecting the integration of migrants and refugees at a local level.
Cities Network for Integration
The Cities Network for Integration (CNI) is an intermunicipal network led by municipalities across Greece that jointly design and exchange good practices in the field of integration of migrants and refugees. CNI aims to strengthen social cohesion through coordinated actions and interventions at local and national level.
CNI was formed in January 2018 on the basis of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the municipalities of Athens and Thessaloniki. A total of 17 municipalities have acceded to the Network so far. The MoU paves the way for a common cooperation framework between CNI members in the fields of know-how exchange, capacity building, promotion of good practices, joint policy-making at European, regional and local level, fundraising and programming.
The Committee of Mayors sets out the strategic priorities of the Network, while the Local Working Groups involving staff with significant experience in integration issues, engage in the process of identifying challenges and developing new initiatives.
Since April 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have been jointly supporting the work of the Cities Network for Integration on the basis of trilateral cooperation with the Municipality of Athens. The two international organizations, based on the priorities set by the participating municipalities, provide the necessary technical means to develop mechanisms and procedures that promote initiatives with long-term benefits for both host societies and refugee/ migrant populations. The IOM has been supporting the CNI since December 2018, as part of IOM’s ‘Durable Solutions’ program.
To date, 18 municipalities have joined the Cities Network for Integration: Athens, Chania, Delta, Agios Dimitrios, Heraklion, Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Kalamaria, Karditsa, Katerini, Larissa, Livadia, Neapoli - Sykees, Nea Filadelfeia / Nea Chalkidona, Piraeus, Telos, Trikala and Tripoli.
Refugee.Info service map for migrants and refugees is an interactive tool searchable by category, location or keyword, and is available in English, French, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Lingala, Kurmanji and Somali. We are connecting with refugee.info, run by the organizations International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps, to facilitate the dissemination of information.
The Athens Coordination Center for Migrant & Refugee issues (ACCMR) through its digital service mapping platform, and the International Rescue Committee Hellas (IRC) through the Refugee.Info platform, join forces in order to facilitate information exchange and improve access to services for migrants and refugees in the City of Athens.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the provision of reliable information is essential for the public health protection. This joint venture between ACCMR and IRC makes all relevant information on services provided by civil society organizations and municipal facilities available in Arabic, French, Urdu, English and Farsi.
The ACCMR platform was based on the successful model of the City of Athens www.synathina.gr platform, which now counts more than 350 groups of citizens and supporters. We are becoming thus part of a wide network of civil society organizations and in this way we are expanding the impact of activities related to refugees and migrants.Through our cooperation with synAthina, any activity registered on ACCMR platform can also go public on www.synathina.gr while both activities and services uploaded on the ACCMR platform can be supported by synAthina’s members. This is a bidirectional process.
EUROCITIES is a network of elected local and municipal governments of major European cities. It offers a platform for sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas, with the main aim to reinforce the role that the local governments should play in a multilevel governance structure.
As a member of the EUROCITIES network, Athens is part of the CITIES GROW project (launched in February 2017, with a duration of 24 months), which is coordinated by EUROCITIES with the support of Migration Policy Group, Migration Work-CIC, and Migration Policy Institute. The CITIES-GroW (integration of migrants through economic activity in cities) project provides practical advice to municipal leaders and decision makers in Europe on how best to address migrant integration challenges and develop effective integration strategies. The project involves 16 European cities which are paired up with the aim to develop mentoring relationships.
The European Coalition of Cities against Racism - ECCAR
ECCAR is an initiative launched by UNESCO (2004), to establish a network of cities interested in sharing experiences in order to improve their policies to fight racism, discrimination and xenophobia. Athens is part of the ECCAR network, and exchanges best practices with other European cities in:
- Fighting racism and discrimination at a municipal level, promoting human rights and respect for diversity.
- Sensitizing the European public to the values of a solidarity-based society and motivating the public to promote equality and to counteract with determination any racist or discriminatory opinion and behavior.