SPARDA: Patras, Greece
Patras is the third largest city in Greece, and the capital of its western region. The city developed rapidly after liberation from the Turks in 1821 thanks to the increasing commerce it enjoyed as a port city. Gradually, heavy industry has also developed, increasing the population. Today, Patras is one of the most influential cities in Greece.
Located in the Peloponnese, Patras’ port is a major point of entry into the Schengen area. As a result, a number of different communities live in the city. The biggest group are Albanian economic migrants, well integrated and speaking Greek. Other Eastern European nationals such as Bulgarians and Romanians also live in the city. Patras also has a fairly large Roma community, divided into more permanent settlers of mainly Greek nationality and other more nomadic groups of foreign nationality. Additionally, there are refugees seeking asylum in the EU, mainly from Kurdistan and Afghanistan. Given the economic situation in Greece, many of those that are not detained on arrival attempt to board boats leaving Patras to Italy.
In Patras, the main objective was to inform the population often bewildered by the constant flow of asylum seekers transiting through the city. In terms of perception, the distinction between them and economic migrants is not always clear.
In schools, teachers were trained on intercultural awareness, pupils received educational material from UNHCR and produced a newspaper on diversity issues. In the city centre, which is fairly compact and has number of heavily frequented squares, a number of activities were held: Distribution of information leaflets, street theatres, photo exhibitions.
The focus of activities on the city centre, including the very popular cafés, means there is a good reach amongst Patras residents. Media coverage focused on the launching press coverage and two day event in mid December, events where Patras hierarchy were present. The campaign coincided with the inauguration of new municipal body, the Council for Integration of Immigrants (SEM).