On 22 March, Mohammed Zawahreh, head of the Local Development Unit of the city of Zarqa (Jordan), presented its city’s work, initiatives and challenges to the PACE’s Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, building on the knowledge and experience gained through the Council of Europe Intercultural Cities programme.
The meeting was held in Amman upon invitation of the Kingdom of Jordan and represented an opportunity for PACE parliamentarians to better understand the situation in the field. Mr Zawahreh casted light on the day-to-day experience of cities that receive and host migrants and refugees, a not well known reality as local authorities are not always included in national discussions on the topic of migrants’ inclusion.
Mr Zawahreh underlined the importance of the Intercultural Cities Programme (ICC), which Zarqa joined in 2016 within the framework of the Joint programme of the EU and Council of Europe – South Porgramme 2. The ICC, a programme that supports local authorities in the design and implementation of inclusive integration policies, has provided Zarqa with the opportunity to refocus the mind-set of its administration from a logic of deficiency to a logic of diversity advantage. Mr Zawahreh emphasised the crucial role of the ICC programme to make them realise the added benefit brought by the skills and experiences of people with a different background on both the economic and social sectors.
The city is now focusing on further improving the social links among citizens, as a way to maintain social cohesion, increase safety and security, and minimise the risks that can arise in times of critical pressure.
* PACE: Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe