How do German municipalities handle the hosting and integration of refugees? And how can Turkish and German municipalities make use of their experience through professional exchange and cooperation in form of partnerships? 18 Turkish and 15 German experts met for the study tour (12-14 February 2019) and the project workshop (14-15 February 2019) to present options for action and consolidate project ideas. "We don't just want to learn, we also want to make a difference," said Angelika Schöttler, Mayor of the Tempelhof-Schönberg district.
As part of the learning process for the integration of refugees in the municipalities, the four-day event followed the dialogue event "Refugee Friendly Municipalities" in Istanbul in November 2018. Project ideas had already been developed there. These and new project ideas, a total of eight, were further explored during the project workshop at Schöneberg Town Hall and participants were informed about funding opportunities within the framework of the "Municipal know-how for host communities in the Middle East" programme.
Previously, during a 2.5-day study tour, the Turkish delegation had gained information on systems and facilities for the registration, care and integration of refugees at district and state level. Tours and discussions took place with the State Office for Refugee Matters, the providers of community accommodation and sports and leisure facilities, private language and integration programmes for children, the Welcome Centre Berlin and the 'Nachbarschaftsheim' (Neighbourhood Home) Schöneberg.
The event took place in close cooperation with the Tempelhof-Schöneberg District Office, the GIZ programme Qudra and UCLG-MEWA.
The expert discussions revealed differences and similarities between the Turkish and German municipalities with regard to their respective duties and approaches. In both cases it is clear, despite the much higher number of refugees in Turkey, that integration ultimately takes place locally, i.e. in the municipalities. Nevertheless, close coordination with the higher levels of government is needed so that the municipalities are not overburdened. On a practical level, it became clear how important tailored offers for the refugees are, such as vocational preparation offers, sheltered spaces for women or creative learning and integration offers for children.
As a result of the project workshop, eight project ideas were formulated, which focus on concrete measures and exchange of expertise through partnerships: Employment preparation measures and training opportunities for women, neighbourhood and community centres, coordination of volunteer work, a welcome centre, language learning programmes for refugee children, a central office for coordinating integration management between the responsible levels. Within the framework of the "Municipal know-how for the host communities in the Middle East" programme, these ideas are being further supported and advised.
Benjamin Jeromin, Sina Webber, Angela König
Elif Dönmez, Yasmin Alhayek