Bogota, 10 February 2021 - During a recent workshop by the two organisations, the main topic was the use of technology as an aid to promote citizen engagement, and urban and housing development that includes refugees and migrants. Other topics discussed included: strengthening assistance for transit population through new ways of cooperation; and the presentation of different platforms that support refugee and migrant localization and visibility.
Elkin Velásquez, regional coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean at UN-Habitat mentioned that the synergy shows the will and capacity to strengthen the region in an inter-institutional way. He also stressed that, "we must support countries to advance in their development processes and reduce migration by obligation or forced, so that migration is not an obligation, but a choice that people may have".
Roi Chiti, coordinator for the Andean Region at UN Habitat, stated that the social construction of habitat is an ideal platform to further processes of inclusion and social cohesion, an approach used within the framework of the Inclusive Cities, Solidarity Communities Project implemented in five countries and nine cities in the region. He highlighted the importance of the strategic alliance between agencies of the United Nations System such as UNHCR, IOM and UN-Habitat, concluding that the integration of refugees and migrants in cities can only be achieved through a joint and parallel effort that includes inclusion of all citizens.
On the other hand, Felipe Muñoz, Migration Unit Chief at IDB, highlighted the importance of such spaces as this workshop to identify synergies and work in specific actions towards the integration of refugee and migrants’ communities in urban areas. He showcased the support that IDB provides for local and national governments, through access of non-reimbursable resources that allow strengthening the implementation of actions in neighborhoods and achieve equitable access to the opportunities offered by the city.
Members of both organizations introduced initiatives and actions to promote development and integration, emphasizing some key objectives, such as, thinking of public space as the main element for promoting social cohesion. They also addressed the need to change the way that administrations perceive the migrant population as an impediment rather than asset rather for sustainable urban development.
The event ended with the general focus of looking for more spaces that allow the exchange of experiences in the near future. At the end, Elkin Velásquez urged to continue in the search for allies, which allow the promotion of this type of collaborative actions, in order to continue addressing migration challenges in the most comprehensive and strategic way possible.
As a follow-up, on February 2nd, the Integrating Cities Project was launched. This effort is an urban development and culture project to welcome Venezuelan families and strengthen host communities, which can be seen through the Facebook channels of MinCultura, MinVivienda, APC-Colombia and the European Union in Colombia.