European border cities form network for migrant reception

Pact signed in Malta between seven cities, including Lampedusa

19 December, 15:58

    (ANSAmed) - NAPLES, DECEMBER 19 - Seven European cities at the heart of the migration phenomenon on Thursday formed the Border Towns and Islands Network (BTIN).

    The founding members are: the island of Lampedusa (Italy), the local council of Marsa (Malta), Agios Athanasios (Cyprus), Grande-Synthe (France), Pesaro (Italy), Siklósnagyfalu (Hungary), and Strass in Steiermark (Austria).

    Totò Martello, the mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa, called the signing in Malta "another important step for this project".

    "Building it depends on all of us. Being an active part of this network we can leave behind that solitude that sometimes hits local border entities. It's fundamental that migration goes back to being a political process," Martello said.

    The network was founded on the initiative of the City of Lampedusa and Linosa, which is also the coordinator of the project Snapshots from the Borders (http://www.snapshotsfromtheborders.eu), in which the local constituent members are partners.

    Amref is a project partner.

    Joseph Azzopardi, mayor of Marsa, called it "an important day".

    "As border locations, Mediterranean and European, we share the same problems and the same necessities," Azzopardi said.

    BTIN is made up only of local authorities of the cities situated at European borders, as full members.

    Its goal is to promote collaborate and reciprocal support among border cities and islands to give voice to national, European, and international decision-making institutions.

    "As an African organisation in this network, we want to contribute to build a correct narration around migration, like we do for Africa," said Roberta Rughetti, programs director for Amref Health Africa Italia.

    "Today's step is one that allows us to go beyond the length of a project. It has the goal of making a network, creating dialogue between territories that face migration on a daily basis. We hope that all of this can be a stimulus for the institutions," Rughetti said.

    The network will focus on questions related to solidarity among cities and countries, the needs of local communities and citizens, more efficient ways to provide migrant reception, collaboration to increase shared European responsibility and that of member states, development cooperation, and peace and dialogue among local authorities.

    Its actions include online networking and exchanging of best practices; shared communication activities that increase the voices from the borders; and shared educational approaches for local communities, aimed both at local residents as well as migrants.

    Starting in 2020, the network will welcome new members, with the goal of strengthening collaboration between local authorities and their voice in the face of national and European institutions. (ANSAmed).

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