The MPI Europe-International Organization for Migration (IOM) has published a report on good practices in supporting access for migrants to housing, local labor markets, health care, and education and child care in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe. This research aims to move the focus from metropolitans with large migrant population to small municipalities closer to the borders of the EU, which faced an influx of immigrants in the last couple of years.
Access to education
The influx resulted in an increase of the number of children, who should be enroled in education or receive early childhood care. However the lack of a central strategy in many municipalities on how to include migrant children in education posed an obstacle for succesful integration. Furthermore, as many national governments do not prioritise early childhood care they take away the opportunity from migrant children to learn the local language at an early age and later succeed in education. The problem derives from the staff shortages, as well as from the lack of local coordination between different departments, which work with migrants.
Access to health care
Even though authorities generally do not consider access to health care as a problem, NGOs often identified obstacles in bureaucratic processes that delay this access significantly. Nevertheless, some good practices were identified: for example in Greece migrants are able to recieve temporary social security numbers to ensure that they can access the treatment they need. A further problem is that municipalities are often unaware of the tools developed by the European Union to help them deal with the challenges experienced in the capacity of their health care system caused by such large number of immigrants. For access to mental health care the biggest obstacle is the langugae barrier between the local experts and the immigrants.
How to improve local approaches?
- Define target groups: do not only address the needs of newcomers but also pay attention to established immigrants
- Improving coordination and collaboration within the municipality
- Pursue a multi-stakeholder strategy: better cooperation between local authorities and the civil society
- Designe inclusive services
- Improve migrant representation
To close the report the author argues that many local municipalities stepped up to the challenges posed by the increased influx of immigrants and it is time that the international community pays attention to the good practices established by them.