Joint statement by Congress rapporteurs on women and children refugees Mr Bernd Vöhringer, President of the Chamber of Local Authorities (Germany, EPP/CCE) and Ms Annika Vaikla (Estonia, ILDG) on the ocassion of the World Refugee Day – 20 June 2022
“Our cities and regions are the first port of entry for people fleeing conflict. We have a responsibility to provide arriving refugees with access to essential public services, especially housing, medical care and education”, highlighted Congress Rapporteurs on women and children refugees Bernd Vöhringer (Germany, EPP/CCE) and Annika Vaikla (Estonia, ILDG) on World Refugee Day, underlining the crucial role of local and regional authorities in the reception, protection and integration of refugees.
“However, refugees are not a homogenous group, which means that cities and regions constantly have to develop and adapt reception policies according to changing realities and demographics,” the Rapporteurs reminded, underlining the need for support from central governments to address this issue.
“As a result of the war in Ukraine, almost 90% of refugees arriving in Europe’s towns and regions are women and children, who are especially vulnerable. As mayors, city councillors and regional representatives, we have a duty to protect them and ensure that their human rights are respected”, the Rapporteurs stated.
To support cities and regions across Europe in providing a safe haven for women and children refugees, the Current Affairs Committee of the Congress is currently preparing a report on the issue. “With this report, we want to provide guidance to our members on how to address the specific challenges faced by women and children on the run,” the Rapporteurs explained.
To gather insights into the specific needs of women and children refugees, identify best practices and strengthen the report, the Rapporteurs and the Chair of the Current Affairs Committee will carry out a study visit to Poland on 4 and 5 July.
“We hope that this visit will help us better understand the needs of cities and regions who receive women and children refugees, so that we can deliver the best possible guidance in our report,” the Rapporteurs concluded.