“Green light” for a new European long-term project: In September 2017, the International Association for Education and Exchange (IBB e.V.) in Dortmund can start their work on the project “Europe4Refugees – follow the routes”, as part of a strategic partnership. Seven partner organisations in the field of adult education from five countries will closely collaborate until November 2019 in order to reach one goal: A practically-oriented country comparison on the situation of refugees. A special focus is put on the perspective of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) and education providers working with refugees. The project is funded by the EU programme Erasmus+. The project coordination of the newly-developing European network of educational institutions is located at IBB e.V. “Refugees face quite different support structures in the different European countries”, says Hildegard Azimi-Boedecker: The legal status, their social and financial support, and the readiness of civil society to take in refugees is quite different in Italy and Greece, than it is in Hungary, Germany, or Norway. This is where the EU-funded project begins: IBB e.V. founded a consortium, combining Non-Governmental Organisations and educational institutions, who now actively broaden their perspectives.
All seven partners are active in working with refugees. In turn, they will now host employees of the other six participating educational institutions and present their work and the perspectives of their respective countries. In this, they follow the routes of refugees in Europe, from South to North, and from East to West. During the three- to five-day seminars, the so-called “learning activities” in the participating countries, the focus is on practical support programmes for refugees. What is the current situation with regard to receiving refugees and how is the legal situation in the country in question? What are the problems? Which measures have proven themselves? And especially: Are there best-practice models, lending themselves to transfer? The partner organisations will organise a tightly-packed meeting programme. The goal is also harmonising refugee support work in Europe using similar standards, and to give information to refugees about their possibilities in transit and target countries, as many refugees continue traveling from e.g. Greece or Italy to more Northern countries. Others are sent back to the country of their first European reception, with recourse to the Dublin process.
“We want to sharpen our view for the different perspectives in Europe, and especially want to know which programmes for further educating and integrating refugees have proven themselves.”, describes Hildegard Azimi-Boedecker, Department Manager for Job International and Migration at IBB e.V. The network should enable the long-term exchange of employees in social fields. All partner organisations will promote the project to the public, also through continuous documentation on the internet. For the finale, a meeting of all project participants is planned in Hitzacker, the seat of the second German partner organisation. The multi-generation town project, featuring a living and working space for refugees, is planned to be completed by then.
There is already a date for the first seminar of the project group: On the 25th of October 2017, representatives of the participating institutions will meet in Calabria, in Southern Italy, where more than 80 000 refugees arrived in the first half of 2017 alone. “In Italy there are interesting projects on integrating refugees in rural locations, but also a number of unsolved problems”, says Hildegard Azimi-Boedecker. IBB e.V. thus also enables the participation of external social work professionals in some programme points at the location. Together with the project group, they will take part in workshop units and talks in the projects close to the Calabrian town of Cosenza.
Partners in the project „Europe4Refugees – follow the routes“ are:
The Mosaik Support Centre for refugees and the local population on Lesbos is a shared project of Lesvos Solidarity and borderline-europe. Lesvos Solidarity is a local group of activists operating an open refugee camp on the former grounds of PIKPA in Mytilini. It is an autonomous and self-organised location, existing since 2011, organised by volunteers and based on the principle of solidarity. Borderline-europe is a German Human Rights Organisation monitoring the situation of refugees on the European external borders. In 2015, borderline-europe founded a subsidiary on Lesbos.
The Dialogos Consulting centre for education and career located in Thessaloniki is an organisation committed to international education with a number of seminars, events, and individual support programmes.
The multi-ethnic, cultural association La Kasbah located in Cosenza is an NGO in Calabria, committed to intercultural exchange, spreading the European idea, and working against discrimination and intolerance. Legal consulting and monitoring are also included in their programme.
The Subjektiv Values Foundation is a grassroots initiative for furthering intercultural dialogue, committed to sustainability, integration, and spreading the European idea in Hungary. The foundation organises international conferences as well as training and mentoring programmes for increasing political participation of refugees and migrants.
EUROMASC – European Masters of Skilled Crafts – is an organisation of further education located in Oslo, managing EU projects for many years now. At the moment EUROMASC supports projects to identify and certify the professional skills of refugees.
The Hitzacker Dorf Cooperative is a basic-democratically organised cooperative, creating an intercultural, sustainable multi-generational town also integrating refugees.
The International Association for Education and Exchange (IBB e.V.) in its field “Job International and Migration” works in intercultural trainings and networking of institutions, NGOs, and self-help in working with refugees. It organises conferences and meetings and seminars for professionals in the countries of origin of refugees. IBB e.V. trains volunteers as mentors in refugee support work, and implements further qualification on intercultural opening for employees and volunteers in the field of health. For the project “Europe4Refugees”, IBB e.V. takes on the role of primary grant applicant and consortium leader.