Today is the first of the two day Consultative Forum plenary meeting held by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). The annual meeting will provide the space to discuss ideas and experiences by CSO’s and individuals relevant to EASO’s work. It is the sixth year this meeting is being held and it takes place in Athens, Greece.
The meeting was opened by the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos. The forum will be adressed by some of Europe’s most notable and active actors in the field of asylum including EASO Executive Director Jose Carreira, UNHCR Director of the Bureau for Europe Vincent Cochetel, the Director of the Greek Asylum Service Maria Stavropoulou, and ECRE Secretary General Catherine Wollard.
More than 200 participants from 26 EU+ countries and 8 third countries representing widely civil society will attend the event. The meeting is steered by a hosting team of professionals skilled in participatory techniques and graphic recording; a marketplace of ideas hosts info stands and a side cultural event will close the first day, listening to the refugee women of the play “The Journey continues”.
Martina Smilevska K’ceva, Program Manager of the Refugees and Migrants Rights Program at Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA) is attending this event, where she will share experiences, outcomes and challenges that arise from the six year long ongoing project MYLA has been working on, UNHCR Legal Assistance and Representation of PoC.
As noted in EASO’s press release, the participants will share best practices related to the implementation of the Relocation programme and the hotspot approach and will debate on how to consistently communicate and inform refugees and citizens in a multi-actor context, as well as discuss the challenges of dealing with vulnerable groups in the context of a high influx.
During breakout sessions, participants will discuss their ideas around these themes, which will feed into the closing panel debate. Focus of this debate will be the challenges faced in 2016, the developments and ways ahead to further strengthen synergies between institutional actors and civil society in their joint effort to address the migratory crisis.
The Consultative Forum provides a much needed space for debate, exchange of information and pooling of knowledge between EASO and relevant stakeholders from Civil Society. It is open to CSOs, individuals operating in the field of asylum at different levels (local, national, European and international), and representatives of refugees communities. EU Member States Asylum authorities, representatives of EU institutions and International Organisations, representatives from local municipalities, and a limited number of civil society representatives from non-EU countries are also invited.