Click here to listen to a broadcast from the SHARE Network Conference by Czech Radio (available in English and Czech)...
The SHARE Network Conference, which took place in Brussels October 21-22, brought together 90 SHARE partners, participants and stakeholders from regional and local authorities, their civil society partners, national governments, European networks and international organisations. The SHARE Project will draw to a close at end 2013, and the SHARE Network Conference was convened to review and reflect on the activities and achievements of the project since its establishment in March 2012, discuss priorities for the SHARE Network during 2014-15, and develop strategies and approaches for a sustainable future SHARE Network.
On the first day of the conference programme, speakers from UNHCR, Germany, France and Finland reflected on the crucial contribution that European cities, regions and their civil society partners that receive and support resettled refugees make to global refugee protection and international solidarity. ICMC Europe presented the outcomes of comparative research on local and regional resettlement and integration, published in the third 2013 edition of 'Welcome to Europe: A Comprehensive Guide to Resettlement', and participants discussed the challenges and opportunities for contemporary resettlement in European cities and regions. Abdulkareem Abdulkareem, an Iraqi engineer resettled to Munich with his family in 2009, outlined the current situation of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries in the region, recalling the welcome that many of those now currently displaced offered to those fleeing Iraq some years earlier, and imploring Europe to offer the same via resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes.
The final panel of Day 1 brought together both hosting organisations and participants of the SHARE City Exchange Visit Programme, which from October 2012 to September 2013 facilitated 9 visits to the UK resettlement partnership for 85 participants from 10 European countries. Chaired by the UK city of Sheffield, the lead city partner in the SHARE Project and visit programme host, participants discussed their learning from the programme, how they had applied it in their local contexts and the value of peer exchange to enhancing local and regional resettlement practice and capacity.
Day 2 of the conference began with an expert intervention by Helge Lunde, the Executive Director of the International Cities of Refugee Network (ICORN). ICORN works with cities around the world to provide persecuted writers with temporary refuge, and their experience of building a city network for human rights and protection provided an inspirational basis for the subsequent discussions. The remainder of Day 2 focused on thematic areas - welcoming communities, humanitarian cities, integration practice, research and peer exchange - identified as central to resettlement and protection at the local level within the SHARE Project. Conference participants heard expert presentations on practice and approaches in these areas, and provided direct input via electronic polling on a series of options for the SHARE Network to further develop activities and initiatives in these areas during 2014-15. Click here to view both the polling questions and participant answers, together with the results of an online survey conducted with SHARE partners and participants during September and October of 2013. The conference concluded with a presentation on city peer exchange and learning by key SHARE partner Eurocities, and ICMC's summary of the conference discussions and next steps for the SHARE Network during 2014-15.