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Working Together for Local Integration of Migrants and Refugees in Athens

image of Working Together for Local Integration of Migrants and Refugees in Athens

Migrants, including native-born children with migrant parents, account for 23% of Athens’ population (664 046 people), while the number of refugees and asylum seekers has rapidly increased since 2015 and is currently estimated at 18 000. To respond to the refugee inflow, Athens developed bold and innovative initiatives, often beyond their direct responsibilities, and sought supra-national and non-state sources of funding (i.e. Stavros Niarchos Foundation, British American Tobacco, etc.). This emphasis on reception and integration of newcomers is the result of strong political will and cooperation with non-state actors, in line with the city's broader priorities since 2010 including anti-discrimination and improving equal access to social services. Integrating newcomers through jobs is particularly challenging given the high unemployment rate that Greece has experienced. In addition, newcomers often have the desire to continue their journey towards northern European countries, reducing their incentives to integrate and learn Greek.

While identifying various innovative practices, the OECD case study of Athens highlights the need for more reliable sources of financing and dialogue among levels of government. Data on migrant integration at the local level would support more evidence-based national, regional and local policy making.

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References

  This case study is based on data retrieved from the Municipality of Athens and its services collected through the OECD survey conducted for the purpose of this study; data from the National Statistical Agency; data from the 2016 report on ‘Local Government and Migrant Integration in Greece’, which canvasses the existing structures for migrants’ integration within four municipalities in Greece, produced by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy’, an independent think-tank producing policy research; data from the 2017 survey conducted by the Observatory for Refugees and Migrants (a structure within the Municipality of Athens), data from the National Agency on Employment and Manpower; data from the Asylum Service; data from the 2017 survey on the attitudes of Greeks conducted by Dianeosis, an independent think-tank producing large surveys on topical issues. Finally, the evidence gathered during the OECD field visit to Athens from March 28 to 31st 2017.

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