Within the framework of the “Municipal Know-How Programme for Host Communities in the Middle East” and “Qudra Programme”, a workshop was organized on 8-10 November 2018, in Istanbul, Turkey, by Connective Cities, GIZ-Qudra and UCLG-MEWA. 47 representatives from Turkish and German municipalities participated in the workshop, which was held with the theme “the Options of Refugee-Friendly Municipalities towards Integration and Social Cohesion.”
At the opening ceremony; Burak Yaşar, Expert at the Directorate General of Migration Management, emphasized the importance of social cohesion of the refugees in the host communities, and the benefits that come from their integration. During his talk in this session; Mehmet Duman, UCLG-MEWA Secretary General, mentioned that one the primary objectives of local government was to include refugees into the development process of their social inclusion policies.
Ingrid Rösner, Advisor at Connective Cities and GIZ, Günther Taube, Qudra Programme Director, also highlighted the works of Connective Cities and GIZ Qudra Programme, in this regard. Both of them stressed the importance of experience and knowledge sharing among the experts from Germany and Turkey. In the session; Michael Reiffenstuel, Consul General of Germany in Istanbul, mentioned the important role of municipalities coping with the refugees and added that the local level is the best level to interact with refugees.
Gathering the representatives of municipalities from Turkey and Germany in order to ensure a peer-to-peer dialogue on the challenges and opportunities for strengthening integration and social cohesion; the three-day event facilitated the participants to intensively exchange through an interactive methodology that was applied during the workshop. This included poster-presentations, rounds of discussions, peer-to-peer consultation. Based on this methodology, six concrete project ideas were developed during the event and were presented and discussed in the plenary at the end of the workshop. The development of these project ideas benefited greatly of the expertise of the present municipal experts, which enhanced the critical reflection and therefore enhanced the conceptualization of project ideas. Project ideas between a German and a Turkish municipality have the possibility to be further supported and set up as joint bilateral municipal projects, which could receive advice and funding for their implementation through the financial instruments of the Middle East Initiative. Within the scope of the workshop, the Project titled “Enhancing Social Cohesion at Local Level through Capacity-building for Migrants and Refugees Assembly” that has been implemented jointly by UCLG-MEWA and Adana Metropolitan Municipality, was presented to the German municipalities.
At the end of the workshop, participants visited the Palace for the Disabled, the Women & Family Cultural Center and the Refugee Support Center opened under the scope of the project run by WALD at Bağcılar Municipality. Connective Cities announced the organization of an event as a second phase that will be held in Germany on 11-15 February 2019, about the “integration of refugees and social cohesion.”