The Eastern Institute’s representatives took part in an international conference on migration

„Lands of Future. Migration and Territorial Development in Favour of Sustainable Growth” – under this title an international conference in Priero was held, the next stage of the ACCESS project realisation. This initiative on migration challenges was inaugurated in March during the 3rd European Congress of Local Governments in Cracow, organised by the Institute of Eastern Studies.

Priero is a small town located in the Piedmont region. Its main problem at the moment is an increasing depopulation associated with low population growth and moves to large urban centres. For Priero, migration is an opportunity for bringing in the past dynamics back and recovering the local economy. The mayor of Priero is director Alessandro Ingaria, who introduced his latest film „Return – or Never Have Left?” during the 27th Economic Forum in Krynica.

The representatives of the local authorities, as well as the non-governmental organizations, who are devoted to helping the migrants in the region, agree that migration is a great opportunity to solve the problems of depopulation of the cities in the region and ageing of its residents. As of today nearly 2 200 migrants seeking asylum have found a safe shelter in over 60 municipalities of Piedmont. The majority lives in special facilities, which offer Italian language classes as well as trainings in ‘socially useful’ professions. Piedmont region’s educational establishments carry out internships and artistic programmes, which aim at the integration of migrants with the local communities and raising awareness on migration issues among the Italian youth.

The speakers noted the main challenges of migrations: cultural differences, unemployment (especially among young people ), suspicion towards strangers, costs of maintenance for special facilities and programmes. The crucial problem is the fact that Italian media publicise ethnic origin, especially in crime-related materials, which may develop prejudice in this area.

Infostranieri, the app presented during the conference, may be the answer to some of their problems. It offers the migrants fast access to information about bureaucracy, law and health issues etc. The app is available in ten languages. It also has communicator that enable asking questions in these languages to receive the answer from the proper specialist.

Exchange of good practices would not be complete without the international context. Participants in the Europe for Citizens programme presented the most important challenges and solutions to the phenomenon of migration in their countries, i.e. Germany, Greece and Slovenia. The representative of the Institute for Eastern Studies in the discussion was Krystyna Vlodek, the coordinator for Ukraine, who presented the problem of internal migration in Ukraine. This issue will be discussed further during the next edition of the Europe-Ukraine Forum in Rzeszow.

The conference also included a screening of the film „A Village in Calabria” about the Calabrian town of Riaca, which was the first in Italy to make abandoned residential buildings available to migrants.