Austria 48.756 / 16.209

“Stefan Grasgruber-Kerl from Südwind contacted the mayor of Traiskirchen, Andreas Babler, and his wife Karin Blum, a city councilor, to ask if the city would be interested in participating in this project. We met in Traiskirchen and he told us about plans to build a strong alliance for refugees and people affected by migration,” says Irene Kari, head of public relations and project development for the Austrian municipality on the Slovakian border.

“It was interesting for us to develop a network between border towns, an exchange and awareness of the situation in other countries and the development of a common voice to support a humane migration policy. And we could and wanted to learn: What works well for them? What projects and initiatives are they working on? What is the policy framework?” says Irene.

“Our first meeting in Lampedusa, when I met the various representatives of the cities and NGOs in the project, was really inspiring: getting to know so many different perspectives and seeing such a commitment to this vital cause was good for all of us who are involved, with different roles and responsibilities, in the topic of global migration,” says Irene.

How could Traiskirchen be told? “Solidarity is experienced in Traiskirchen in many ways. The size of the city, the political support and the network between the key players allow for rapid action on the ground. In 2015, many projects and initiatives were launched that still exist today,” answers Irene. “With respect to memory, the first reception center has been in our city for 60 years. Wars and global crises are reflected in the changing residents of the home. The project has certainly contributed a lot to give a conscious perspective of the tumultuous history, especially the year 2015, to learn about history and how situations change but places to welcome people on the run remain necessary. Traiskirchen has the largest refugee camp in Austria. Mayor Andreas Babler’s empathy towards flight and migration is well known and he gives humanity the highest priority. Mr. Babler is present in many international networks on behalf of the city and is a founding member of actNOW, an annual refugee conference.”

What do you think have been the most interesting effects for the city of Traiskirchen since participating in the project? “Through the project, of course, we dealt with the topic much more intensively than we would have done without it. In the course of the scientific review, we were able to structurally look back at the interventions of the last few years,” says Irene. “Many of the volunteers were part of the project, and making their contributions visible strengthened the team spirit among them. The informal knowledge of the various actors has become a common asset. As part of the project, people met who knew each other but had never met in person. Many stories about the challenges of 2015 and those of today were told and showed us what we can accomplish together and how to do it. I find that in the end, the project worked very well and offered a lot of insights going forward.”

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