In the framework of the EPIC project, the Municipality of Ioannina organised a public conference entitled “Current issues of social integration of migrants and refugees” on Friday, 23 September 2022 at the Cultural Multicenter “Δημ. Χατζής“.
The aim of the conference was to raise awareness among the local community about current migration/refugee integration issues and to inform the public about social integration programmes implemented by the Municipality of Ioannina, public and private camps and social organisations operating in our region.
The Mayor of Ioannina, Moses Elisaf, and the Secretary General of ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy, Mrs. Antonella Valmorbida, welcomed conference attendees underlining the importance of developing synergies between European municipalities and social organisations to address the migration issue and the integration of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants at the local level.
For the first time, the Municipal Authority is implementing European programmes focused on the social integration of migrants, funded directly by the European Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). The responsible Deputy Mayor of Social Protection and Immigration Policy of the Municipality of Ioannina, Ms. Christina Kotsanti, presented the work progress of the 4 European co-financed projects of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) implemented by the Social Protection Department of the Municipality of Ioannina:
- “European Platform of Integrating Cities – EPIC”.
- Raising Capacity for Inclusive People engaged in private sponsorship – RaCIP”.
- Empowering migrants to be representative actors in community engagement – EMBRACE”.
- Migrant Integration through Locally designed Experiences – MILE”.
Ms. Nicoleta Petalidou, representative of Symbiosis (partner of the EPIC project in Greece), presented their project – School of Political Studies in Greece – and focused on “Migration, Gender and gender relations”.
Mr. Petros Mastakas, representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for Greece, presented the challenges and solutions for the social integration of refugees, while the representative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Mr. Ioannina Efthymiou, presented the actions of the HELIOS integration programme.
In the second part of the conference, speeches/presentations on current issues of social integration were held by representatives of social organizations active in our region, namely:
- The Head of the ASB – Arbeiter Samariter Bund e.V Office in Ioannina, Ms. Athina Mourtiadou, with a speech entitled: “ASB: Harmonizing protection practices in Greece”.
- The Advocacy Manager of ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth, Mr. Constantinos Kyrmanidis, entitled: “International Protection of Unaccompanied Minors – Legal Framework & Integration into the Society”.
- The SIL Field Coordinator of ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth, Mr. Christos Hamamtzis, entitled: “Supervised Apartments for Unaccompanied Minors over 16 years old: an alternative integration model”.
- The President of the International Centre for Sustainable Development (ICSD), Mr. Stefanos Panakoulias, entitled: “Integration and Social Exclusion of Refugee Populations”.
- The Executive of Second Tree, Mr. Lefteris Karagiannis, entitled: “High expectations, high opportunities: A new approach to the integration of migrants developed in Ioannina”.
- The Coordinator of the Integration Training Center – ILC HELIOS, Ms. Hara Giatroudi, and the HCAC Ioannina – Orange Center Instructor, Ms. Constantia Liouza, entitled: “SolidarityNow non-formal education programs in Ioannina”.
- The member of the scientific team of the Camp of Unaccompanied Minors Ag. Athanasios in Perama Ioannina, Ms. Alexandra Zoi, entitled: “Camp of Unaccompanied Minors Ag. Athanasios. I live and create”.
- The Child Protection Officer of METAdrasi, Ms. Ersi Koi, entitled: ““Together in Sport” program”.
The conference was concluded with the presentation of the objectives/results of the Pilot Project of the EPIC project “+Ergasia” for the integration of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in the local labour market by the Technical and Administrative Support Executive of the project, Ms. Christina Mathiou.
The conference video is available in the following link: https://youtu.be/q_yjKbfYbk8
The Municipality of Ioannina, the Social Protection Department of the Municipality of Ioannina and the partners of the EPIC project would like to warmly thank all the speakers and attendees for their positive contribution to the successful outcome of the event.