International spotlight: European local councils at forefront of refugee crisis

The Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) members from Europe were recently hosted by the Local Government Association of England and Wales to discuss the impact of the current refugee crisis on local governments in countries such as Cyprus, Malta and the UK and to share their different experiences in responding to the situation.

Since the first quarter of 2014, the number of refugee and asylum applicants in Europe has doubled from 100,000 a quarter to 200,000. While the system of assessing asylum and setting policy is a national government responsibility, local governments are the organisations dealing with setting and integrating refugees in their areas every day.

Council of European Municipalities and Regions General Secretary, Frederic Vallier, emphasised how local governments are at the forefront of the refugee crisis in Europe and need to be prepared to deliver support and services such as housing, healthcare, and food. He said that cities are the first place to receive refugees and provide shelter and need the funds to do this and that it would be beneficial to have better coordination across EU states and across local governments.

Read more on the CLGF website.