Facilitating access to quality basic services
Facilitating access to quality basic services for people with a migrant background.
Participants discussed the main barriers that people with a migrant background face in their attempt to access quality services and possible solutions to facilitate their access. Among the main points discussed were:
An OECD study identified 12 points to promote the effective integration of migrants at the local level.
Trust/mistrust in social services can have a very direct impact on accessing/benefiting from social services. A close cooperation between local authorities and civil society organisations, involving volunteers, is paramount to facilitating access to quality basic services for people with a migrant background. The lack of affordable housing, segregated housing and discrimination represent significant barriers in integration policies. Volunteers play an important role in tackling structural barriers.
Local authorities are required by international human rights to ensure access to basic services for all, including particular vulnerable groups (e.g. undocumented migrants).
The city of Utrecht emphasized the role of civil society organisations in mediation role, in particular in healthcare services. An agreement between cities and the national government is currently piloted in five Dutch cities where cities and civil society organisations provide professional (legal) guidance, shelter, activation programs (education) and access to health care.
The Athens Coordination Centre for Migrant and Refugee issues was established by the municipality of Athens to foster permanent dialogue between the local authority and civil society organisations and to promote cooperation in the fields of access and legal rights, livelihood and access to the labour market, education, health and wellbeing and gender issues.
Following the presentation of local examples above, Syed Hasnain gave a personal account of his journey to Europe, highlighting his struggles and the lack of opportunities in accessing services and exercising his rights. He stressed the role of local citizens (volunteers) in bridging the gaps of needs and service provisions.
Syed HASNAIN, UNIRE, Italy
Jan BRAAT, City of Utrecht (Netherlands
Robin VANDEVOORDT, University of Antwerp
Lefteris PAPAGIANNAKIS, Athens (Greece)
Anna PICCINNI, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD