“The situation is very difficult. Maybe in another country, our situation could be better. We would have our own business and our kids could go to school,” says Asim Bukhari, a Pakistani refugee who has been living in the Greek refugee camp of Eleonas with his wife and two daughters (aged 6 and 8) for over a year. His case is only one of the thousands of stories that we don’t see on the news, but are currently happening in Europe.
In recent years, thousands of people have left their home countries running from armed conflicts. After overwhelming journeys across several countries to reach Europe, those who finally arrive to the Promised Land find themselves held by closed borders or stuck in refugee camps awaiting the regularization of their situation.
One of the most important supports refugees have in the camps is the volunteers that set up structures to improve their living conditions and organize activities for children and adults to lead life as normally as is possible in their situation. Andreas Ashikalis, responsible for Project Elea at Eleonas Camp, explains, “It’s important to understand that the refugees don’t consider the camp to be their home. Their home was destroyed and now they are expecting to go somewhere else for a more permanent situation and hope for a better future.”
This is only one of the reasons that make the relocation of refugees across Europe an impending need that European Governments must face. In September 2015, EU member states committed to relocate 160,000 refugees. However, by mid-November 2016, only 4.5% of them had been found a new home.
In order to tackle this issue and find a solution as soon as possible, Vision Communication has been working with the European network of cities Eurocities to promote its initiative Solidarity Cities, which advocates for a fair sharing of responsibilities across the EU and to include local authorities in the management of the refugee crisis. Some European cities, such as Barcelona, have already claimed their willingness and availability of resources to host refugees, however, the issue has been left to the administrations of National governments But cities, tend to be the first point of contact for relocated refugees and, therefore, it’s local authorities who are dealing with integration challenges. This is why, at the moment, cities participating in the initiative are focusing on refugee integration, one of the main difficulties once the relocation has been granted.
Vision Communication will continue to work hard to support refugee integration all over Europe.