On Wednesday, 15th of June, the Greek Forum of Refugees inaugurated the start of the Integration Council for Migrants and Refugees together with the Municipality of Karditsa, a few days before the World Refugee Day (20th of June), in a move of great importance for the City and the refugee communities.
For about two years, the Greek Forum of Refugees in collaboration with the Development Agency of Karditsa, worked to empower the refugee communities with an aim to shaping the conditions of their representation in the Integration Council. At the same time, we closely worked with the Municipal authorities, which from the very first moment demonstrated the appropriate will and determination for the establishment of the Council, in order to lay the foundations of refugees’ and migrants’ civic participation.
The first session was attended by the President of the Integration Council and Deputy Mayor, Mr Theodoros Theodoropoulos, the Vice – President of the Integration Council and Deputy Mayor, Mr Stefanos Theologis and the members of the Municipal Council, Ms Zisi, Mr Kranias, Ms Makri, Ms Kolokytha and Mr Zygogiannis.
From the side of the refugee communities, Mr Dorcel Kamuaka, Mr Jοseph Yamb and Mr Evariste Katamba were present. Members of the Council will also be Mr Mike Nkunku, Mr Vital Mata and Mr Falonne Vunda Dizongo. The Greek Forum of Refugees was represented by the President of the Board of Directors, Mr Jean – Didier Totow Tom Ata, accompanied by the organisation’s Communication Officer, Mr Christos Lazaridis.
The Greek Forum of Refugees provided the local refugee communities with the opportunity to participate in the Integration Council through the process of certifying them as members of the association, in order to achieve their representation. The presence of the refugee community in Karditsa is extremely dynamic and it desires its active participation in the process of refugees’ and migrants’ integration. From the session that was held in the premises of Karditsa Development Agency, the purpose of which was to inform refugees over their chances regarding civic participation, in addition to the thorough description of the challenges, community members promoted their will to actively engage with the Municipal authorities and its services for the recommendation of tangible solutions.
It is necessary to remind you that the responsibilities of the Integration Councils for Migrants and Refugees are to record and investigate problems faced by migrants and refugees who live permanently in the district of the municipality, in terms of their integration into the local community, their contact with public authorities or the municipal authority. Moreover, it is the submission of proposals to the municipal council for the development of local actions to promote the smooth social integration of migrants and refugees and in general to solve the problems they face, especially through the organization of advisory services by the municipal services. Finally, the organisation, in collaboration with the municipality, of events to raise awareness and strengthen the social cohesion of the local population.
At this point we should mention that on June 23rd and at the session materialised in the Integration Council for Migrants and Refugees of the Municipality of Athens, the Greek Forum of Refugees was invited to present before the Council, but also before the Directorate of Social Integration of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, the good practice of forming the Integration Councils of Migrants and Refugees throughout Greece. The presentation was held by Mr. Nikodimos Maina Kinyua.
The Greek Forum of Refugees, as the only association that provides collective representation for refugees in Greece, works on the establishment and the empowerment of Integration Councils for Migrants and Refugees throughout Greece, in cooperation with the Municipal authorities and in the context of social cohesion.
Refugees’ and migrants’ civic participation in decision – making procedures is for us a crucial goal for social integration and inclusion.