“Challenges and impact of refugee crisis for Local Governments in South-East Europe”, will be the focus of the panel discussion that will be organized by the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe (NALAS), with support of German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and the Government of Switzerland, on 2 October 2015 in Zagreb, Croatia.  

Mayors and municipal staff from Kutina, Tovarnik, Zabok, Njemci, Otok (Croatia) Kanjiza, Paraćin, Preševo (Serbia), Kumanovo (Macedonia), Kahramanmaras and Istanbul (Turkey) will reflect on their experiences and practices dealing with the refugees influx thus far, will identify emergency measures, procedures and methods, considering all local competences and issues to be addressed in such emergency situations and will discuss the opportunities for regional coordination and cooperation. Representatives of the donor community will also attend the meeting to discuss the needs for support and emergency measures.

The bordering towns in South-East Europe face a huge daily influx of refugees from Syria and other countries, that in many cases daily exceeds their population numbers. This created plenty of new challenges for the local governments. On one side, local governments are working in parallel with national governments, humanitarian and other organizations when providing support and necessary treatment to refugees. On the other side, they have to continuously provide high quality services to a dramatically increased number of people, in a situation of inherited poor public infrastructure.

“This meeting is not just one more conference”, says Mr. Emil Draghici, President of NALAS and Mayor of Vulcana-Bai, Romania. “This should be an open discussion with and among Mayors of the mostly affected municipalities. A discussion about this real time situation we are all in, to understand the challenges they are facing, and together to make a short term plan of action on how can our Local Government Associations and their NALAS network, in cooperation with other partners, help those Municipalities cope with the problem”.