On Monday, November 5, the City of Athens invited representatives from 12 municipalities in Greece to Athens City Hall to set common targets for refugee integration into local communities, as well as share experiences and best practices.
The City of Athens with more than 14,000 people may currently be hosting the largest number of refugees in Greece, but more than 7,613 people in total live in municipalities in Central, Northern and Western Greece and Crete, as part of the 'ESTIA' accommodation program financed by the European Union's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).
A recent OECD study examined the challenges related to the integration of migrant populations in 72 cities, with a particular focus on 9 European cities, including Athens, Greece. The report highlights successful and innovative actions taken by cities that aim to address this major challenge. This is essential in order to succeed in the complex task of providing coherent and effective policies for migrant integration, since, according to the report, 80% of cities participating in the survey believe there are information gaps between local authorities and higher levels of government that hamper effective policy-making.
“The Cities Grow project has proven very useful for the municipality of Athens in the current context of the refugee situation. Pairing up with the city of Munich as mentor was a great opportunity for our services as it has allowed us to collaborate with an administration that has been dealing with issues of access to labor market foe many years. In the same time it gave our services the opportunity to test ideas and proposals. Overall a very interesting and exciting process”, the Vice Mayor of Migrants and Refugees, Lefteris Papagiannakis, said.