1st STAFF EXCHANGE MEETING OF EXPERIENCES AND KNOWLEDGE IN THE FIELD OF REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS’ INTEGRATION IN LOCAL SOCIETIES BETWEEN MUNICIPALITIES OF THESSALONIKI AND DELTA (CONNECTION -AMIF)
From September 20 to 24, guidance meetings were held between executives of the Μunicipalities of Thessaloniki and Delta in the framework of the European project CONNECTION (CONNEcting Cities Towards IntegrationactION), co-financed by the Asylum, Μigration, and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the European Union. Municipality of Thessaloniki (city with experience in integration policy) presented its strategies oν integration of refugees / migrants in the metropolitan city and provided empirical guidance and know-how to the representatives of Delta Municipality (municipality with less integration experience) to conduct / modify its integration plan.
The 5-day meetings, organized by ANATOLIKI SA, led by Eurocities and Migration work, (coordinators), were attended along with the representatives of the Municipalities of Thessaloniki, Delta and ANATOLIKI SA, staff of the React accommodation project, partners of Thessaloniki Municipality and the municipal Migrants Integration. All valid restrictions due to covid-19 were considered during the physical presence meetings.
On the first day, during an online presentation, Virginia Politi, Head of the Department for Refugees and Migrants, analyzed Thessaloniki’s Social Policy Programs for refugees and asylum seekers, including housing, local integration plans, etc.
On the second day, in the “Water room” of Thessaloniki’s City Hall, Anastasios Telidis, Special Advisor to the Mayor for economic issues and migration policy, spoke in detail about the inclusion policies at local level and the synergies of the Municipality with other bodies (international organizations, civil society organizations). Then, Stefania Pantazi, coordinator in Thessaloniki of the NGO PRAXIS, (partner in the REACT project) spoke about the services of the Polyclinic and the focus of the organization to facilitate autonomy of the beneficiaries as regards access to public health structures.
Next day, at the offices of the Migrants’ Integration Center (MIC), Evangelia Tsilivarakou, coordinator of MIC, Rozi Panagiotou, cultural mediator and Svetlana Drazovic, beneficiary of MIC, presented their experience from the operation of the Center as regards reception as well as integration.
A visit to the premises of "Filoxeneio”, Shelter forAsylum Seekers», a project run by Thessaloniki Municipality took place on the fourth day, where Manolis Zouggos, coordinator of the shelter, analyzed the services of the structure on a 24-hour basis and the difficulties that arise. Then, in the courtyard of the facility, Andreas Karadakis, staff member of the Independent Department of Business Planning and Monitoring of Development Programs in Thessaloniki Municipality, presented the available financial tools and how to design social inclusion programs of third country nationals, provided clarifications where needed and focused on the implementation of respective activities.
The meetings were completed with Virginia Politis and Dorothea Kokozidou, discussing with Delta’ officials, Grigoris Saridis, Special Advisor to the Mayor and Christos Nazlidis, Municipal Councilor, on Delta’s draft action plan, its wider goals, the difficulties, the corrections / modifications that need to be analyzed in more details by the Municipal Council. Emphasis and in-depth discussion took place on the financing, operation, and coordination of the processes of the MIC, which is one of the first objectives of the integration action plan.
All meetings and discussions were coordinated by Eftychia Kivrakidou, Director of Administrative - Financial Management and Human Resources of ANATOLIKI SA., who noted that the agenda of the meetings ensured that all presentations and discussions were targeted and focused on the needs of Delta Municipality, that the meeting achieved its goal and that it was a productive use of attendees' time, especially Delta’s Municipality.
Finally, the 2nd staff exchange meeting of know-how is planned in the premises of Municipality of Delta with the representatives of Thessaloniki Municipality visiting the integration structures of Delta.