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Eurodiaconia is delighted to invite you to its first member meeting on migration, which will be a unique opportunity for members to discuss the current situation of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, the need for short and long-term services and advocacy approaches and determine where the focus should be for Eurodiaconia on this topic in the coming year. It will take place from 2pm on 21 January till 3pm on 22 January 2016 (originally scheduled on 8-9 December but postponed) in Eurodiaconia’s offices, 166 rue Joseph II, 1000 Brussels, Belgium.

Over the past year, we have been aware that many members would like to meet to discuss how best we can work on migration as a European network. This was clear at the 2015 Annual General Meeting. Since then, there has continued to be humanitarian tragedies both in the Mediterranean Sea and around Europe. This has also led to political decisions at European level, including proposals on relocation which have been both welcomed and rejected. Many members of Eurodiaconia have responded to the crisis with the provision of humanitarian aid and assistance as well as the development of longer term projects.

Many members of Eurodiaconia organise social services that support migrants, asylum seekers and refugees on a daily basis, and/or advocate for their rights. We are also aware that such actions can be jeopardised by a lack of access to funding, policies that prevent support given to some of the most vulnerable people, and that such services and actions often take place against a backdrop of increasing negativity and at times xenophobia towards migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. We also know from some members that it is the lack of experience in working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers that brings the greatest challenges right now.

This networking meeting is a first meeting among Eurodiaconia members where you can share your experience, present questions and discuss what common actions could be taken across the European network. We want to discuss what Eurodiaconia could do practically (supporting members in their work, supporting sharing of good practice, enabling potential partnerships) and what could be done politically (advocacy work towards the European Union). Most importantly, we want to know what you as members want Eurodiaconia to work on in the areas of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Should Eurodiaconia place its focus solely on service provision or should we be more engaged in issues of rights, legal options and migration and asylum policy more generally? What are the implications of working more in this area and how would members wish to have ongoing co-operation and discussion? Please note that in these discussions we are not specifically focusing on EU mobile citizens, but the so called ‘third country’ migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Nor is the focus only on the reception countries within the European Union.

With this aim in mind, the first day of the meeting will focus on an overview of the challenges third country-nationals face in Europe and then share responses from members in the area of project partnerships, advocacy, services and awareness raising activities. The second day will focus on EU policy making in the field of migration, its current developments and the way that we, as a European network, could be engaged in this area of work.

Click here to find out more about the programme and to register.