Inclusive Cities - Fostering communities of solidarity for Venezuelan migrants
A city's sustainable development depends on a number of factors – not least meeting the health needs of vulnerable urban dwellers. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought this into even sharper focus.
With €16 million in funding from the EU and implemented by UN-Habitat, UNHCR and IOM, the 'Inclusive Cities, Communities of Solidarity' project (Cuidades incluyentes, Comunidades Solidarias in Spanish) is designed to show that migrants and refugees can make a real contribution to socio-economic and cultural diversity in their host cities and communities across Latin America.
With sound, inclusive urban planning and action that gives migrants and refugees a voice and a chance to take part, urban communities can promote intercultural dialogue, social cohesion and integration. The project seeks to help build strategies that local authorities can implement to this effect. It uses “hands-on” knowledge about how migrants and refugees are integrating into Latin American cities and, in doing so, enable local authorities to do more in this area and boost socio-economic opportunities for the population as a whole.
Also, at the present time, the project seeks to encourage decision-makers to think about joined-up responses to mitigate the impact of the virus and meet the needs of all vulnerable people in their localities, be they migrants or locals.
What has been done so far?
Multiscale action that involves national level, city level (in some cases even metropolitan areas), and a smaller scale Territorial Intervention Unit has been planned. The project carried out workshops with local governments in all the targeted cities in the first months of the year to select the Territorial Intervention Units where pilot activities are going to be implemented.
An analysis of refugees and migrants’ population and relevant territorial information from the cities prosperity angle will be an opportunity to count on relevant data from people and territory perspectives. It will also become a useful dashboard for local governments in the medium and long term.
With the current COVID-19 situation, the project is preparing a contingency plan to ensure continuety of its activities and decide together wth local and national uthorities which activities should be postponed. Also, the project has set up Cash Based Interventions (CBI) of €3.2 M to benefit refugees, migrants and host communities in vulnerable situation as an emergency response to support families during the curfew and provide them with access to banking services.
Further actions such as capacity building, analysis of information for crisis management and resilience, recommendations to build healthy cities and environments, communications targetting beneficiaries to prevent COVID-19, and more, are being organised in addition to initially planned activities.
What can be achieved?
Migrants and refugees provide and enrich the cultural diversity of the cities and communities where they settle. The project “Inclusive Cities, Communities of Solidarity” is a practical way to demonstrate the value of this population for the cities of Latin-American
Sound and wide participatory urban planning and interventions, which includes migrants and refugees voices and actions, promotes intercultural dialogue and social cohesion and integration within the communities. The project “Inclusive Cities, Communities of Solidarity” aims to develop a territorial strategy that can be lead and implemented by the local authorities under this approach.
The project is an innovative cooperation mechanism that generates and disseminates “hands on” knowledge of the local dimension of migrants’ integration in Latin-American cities. This cooperation reinforces the social and institutional capacities of local authorities to address migrant and refugee’s integration and socio-economic opportunities including the wider population.
The project aims to sensitize decision-making actors about the need to consider all the population in vulnerable situation on a territory, without distinction of migrants and locals, to promote integrated responses with the potential to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
While the project is extending its activities to other cities and countries across Latin Amercia, the following initiatives are already ongoing in targeted countries:
In Colombia, local governments have received technical support on the inclusion of refugees and migrants needs and social capital into Developing Plans for the next 4 years of government with great success.
An Information and orientation Centre for refugees and migrants in Cucuta at the border in Puente Francisco de Paula Santander has been opened recently.
During COVID-19 situation, a public opinion poll has shown the negative image that Colombians have of migrants and refugees from Venezuela. This is a big challenge for the project which has to reinforce the messages of integration and the positive impact of these communities in the cities.
In Peru, the project intends to offer spaces to include and promote the importance of Venezuelan professionals in host communities by showing that they are able to contribute to society from their expertise, especially in the current situation with health professionals, engineers, researchers among others.
In Ecuador, the project is currently implementing a strategy to strength local capacities of the municipality of Quito through virtual spaces that contribute to territorial urban planning to face the impact of Covid-19.
In Dominican Republic, the project aims to disseminate by communication networks some strategic information for refugees and migrants to give them tools for protection and enforceability of their access of rights.