The latest events in the area of Eastern Mediterranean, and especially in the Middle East, have triggered the greatest shifts in population since World War II, as indicated by the refugee crisis and immigration waves. According to UNHCR, in the last three years, during the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the total number of refugees has increased by 50%.
It has been estimated that the number of people, who had to leave their home due to the Syrian war, reaches 5,5 million, of which 50% are women and children. Turkey is the first stop of these populations, while Central and Northern Europe appears to be the final one. Eastern Europe and the Balkan Peninsula are more of a “transition zone”, which leaves Greece the “threshold” for refugees in entering the European Union due to from its lengthy coastline.
However, after the EU-Turkey agreement and in light of the inconsistent policy of the European countries on the issue of relocation, thousands of refugees are “stuck” in Greece. More particularly, in the Eastern Aegean islands the number of people residing in -initially- temporary camps exceeds by far the existing capacity. Overall, in both Greece and Turkey, it has become clear that refugees settle permanently, or for a long period of time, which as a result creates needs concerning their health and general care and also their integration in local communities.
In light of this international crisis, the European ERASMUS+ project “ICRSI – International Cooperation for rehabilitation and social integration of women refugees in Turkey and in Europe!” is being developed by the University of Gaziantep, a Turkish city where a large number of Syrian refugees lives and have reported issues with women living outside of the camps. In this framework, the 3rd transnational meeting of the project took place in the historic city of Łódź in Poland, in 28 and 29 of August. The Institute of Entrepreneurship Development was represented by Anna Koronioti, Elias Bambagenes, Christos Bampalis and Maria Keramida who, along with the partners from Albania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Turkey and the Czech Republic, presented the respective refugee state in their countries as well as initiatives towards the social integration of these people.
At the meeting, that took place in the premises of the University of Humanities and Economics in Lodz, the partners had the chance to prepare and discuss in detail presentations on the topics of employability, entertainment and psychological support, which have proven to effectively help refugees. Other issues that were examined included NGOs’ initiatives, in collaboration with municipalities, such as language courses, bureaucracy matters, financial help, healthcare, housing as well as recreational activities. Statistical data were used in order to refer to Greek hotspots and their provisions by organizations and municipalities.
Finally, there was a discussion to carry out activities that will aid in the refugee crisis, such as the development of translated material for the refugees which will include basic information for emergencies and other issues that could concern them, eg education. The partners scheduled their next transnational meeting to take place in November in Larissa, Greece.