10 Oct 2022 16h30Brussels
About the workshop
In February 2022 when Ukraine found itself victim to the atrocious and bloody attacks by the Russian Federation what ensued was one of the largest movements of people to European countries since the Second World War, bringing with it many challenges for regions and municipalities.
We have read harrowing accounts of minors, old, and sick people trekking hundreds of kilometres to reach safe harbours. The generous and heartwarming refugee response mobilised in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and other bordering countries is impressive. Subnational governments have largely been the backbone of the effort offering varying levels of support. But what is it really like on the ground for local and regional authorities in border regions managing such huge numbers of arrivals of displaced people every day on their territories? Being the public actors closest to the local population and the refugees they are often the first port of call in an emergency situation.
They face considerable pressure because of the unequal distribution of the responsibility of managing the influx of refugees. Local authorities are supposed to manage the reception of asylum seekers in front-line and transit cities.
In general, regional and local authorities do not only have to implement national policies, but often have to develop ad hoc measures. In Poland and other receiving countries, the UN, EU, and other donors must support governments and civil society to meet refugees’ reception and integration needs in the immediate and longer term. These include safe accommodation, medical and mental healthcare, and access to education and employment.
An effective response is grounded in local civil society organizations, investing in their capacity to scale existing services. Swiftly developing government initiatives to responsibly collect and share information about aid efforts within and across borders is necessary to strengthen protections and avoid trafficking, exploitation, and other rights abuses in the region.
In our workshop, we propose first-hand accounts of local and regional authorities' efforts, challenges and expectations in managing the arrival of refugees on their territories.