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Migrating in small-and-medium-sized towns: an international conference

In March, Codici had the opportunity to participate in the PISTE mid-term event in Thessaloniki, Greece. A two days international policy and scientific conference on “Migrating in small-and-medium-sized towns: experiences, challenges, perspective for participation”.

Blue Refugee Centre

Around 50 scholars and practitioners in various fields from all over Europe joined the conference. They all addressed migration in small-and-medium-sized towns’ contexts and dealt with socioeconomic dynamics, policy challenges and policy innovations. Professor Ruth McAreavey from Newcastle University (UK) held the keynote speech: “Diversity, inclusion and participation: mobilising the benefits of international migration to small and medium towns”.

The event took place in the Blue Refugee Centre by Solidarity Now, a Greek non-profit humanitarian organisation addressing the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups. The centre aims to promote a better quality of life and self-reliance for migrants and refugees in the region, offering a wide range of services and especially targeting the most vulnerable individuals.

Reflections from Practice

Guido Belloni and Roberta Marzorati presented “Improving Forced Migration Reception and Integration in Small and Medium-Sized Towns: reflections from Practice in Regional-Scale Projects in Italy”. The starting point was that the outcomes of reception and integration paths of displaced people strongly depend on the destination, which migrants cannot choose. In this sense, finding reasonable accommodation is like turning the “wheel of fortune”.

Starting from a comparative analysis of three different programmes, the researchers tried to answer the following questions:

  • Which conditions are needed to improve local governance of migration in SMTs?
  • How could this positively affect the processes of integration of migrants?

The researchers looked at three dimensions: the role and engagement of the public authority; the third-sector networks; the migrant participation. Their study suggests that reception pathways in SMTs may struggle to succeed due to:

  • a lack of local resources and opportunities;
  • a weak engagement by public authorities;
  • limited third-sector actors’ networks.

Yet, projects and interventions can make a difference. They can develop collaborative actions among different levels of the governance structure and support formal aspects in the governance of migrants’ reception. Eventually, they can promote advocacy and empowering activities.

Photo ☉☉ Oriento on Unsplash

Date: 11 July 2023
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