Migration and cities

What are the needs and expectations of local governments?

Internal and international migration movements in the greater Mediterranean region have a direct and long-lasting impact on the development of urban areas in the region, as these are often the actual destinations of migrant populations. In order to maximize the social and economic development potential of these migrant populations, cities need effective migration governance capacities, particularly in view of ensuring migrants’ enjoyment of human rights and their access to services. In this regard, migration policies) should be considered as integrated affairs, they should be linked to financial affairs and all departments of the municipality as a crosscutting issue. There is, therefore, a need for internal coordination at the city level, but also within the different levels of administrations (region state, NGOs) to create a new way to communicate on migration, explain why solidarity is important and host refugees and promote an intercultural society as a vector of peace and prosperity. Cities need to explain that integration, defined as interactions between newcomers and local inhabitants is an investment; it takes time but pays back. There is no need for new services, but a need to make current services accessible to all, including migrants.

In this regard, the main guidelines for integration of migrants should be based on:

  • Communication (need to inform citizens and migrants);
  • Social work from day 1(Social care is crucial for a good integration process);
  • Access to local services (means also to train civil servants to cultural issues);
  • Involve civil society.

Thus, local governments need capacity building for practitioners who should be formed to cultural aspects in order to understand better the needs of the migrants; exchange of best practices and peer learning; financial and human resources support to face unexpected situation; effective and direct mechanisms of inter-institutional coordination (cities needs to have a map of all services offered to migrants by the different actors active in the territory). 

When it comes to hosting a large number of refugees, the main needs for cities are on infrastructures: road, healthcare centers, housing, schools, and public transportation. Therefore, it is necessary to provide local governments with financial support and human resources to handle the large number of arrivals, better coordination systems with local, regional, national and supra-national levels and tools for implementing social cohesion in a crisis situation.