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Since 2016, the Mediterranean Host Municipalities Learning Network (HMLN) provides a platform for peer-to-peer learning and collaboration for local governments hosting refugees in the Middle East and Turkey facilitated by the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI). The HMLN contributes to improving members’ capacities for ensuring the common welfare of host communities and refugees through regular face-to-face workshops, online discussions, and periodic collection of experiences implemented in local communities hosting refugees.
As most forcibly displaced in the Eastern Mediterranean Region are hosted in cities or rural communities rather than in camp settings, an approach focused on Local Economic Development (LED) helps strengthening local economic growth for the benefit of refugees and local communities. The topic of LED and job opportunities for host and refugee populations emerged as a key topic for HMLN members and was the focus of activities in the years 2017-2018.
Members of the HMLN have been exchanging knowledge and increasing their capacities in LED in 2016-2018 with the help of CMI, its partners, and experts, through the following activities and products:
The third annual event of the HMLN is organized by the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), United Cities & Local Governments – Middle East & Western Asia (UCLG-MEWA), the International Labour Organization (ILO), CIHEAM Bari and the World Bank. It aimed at taking stock of the Network achievements and progress on LED learning in 2017-2018, deepen peer-to-peer based knowledge on LED, increase national and cross-country collaborations, and stimulate exchanges between host local governments and development partners and experts.. It specifically aimed to:
i) Demonstrate achievement and progress of regional network development and initiated inter-municipal twinning on LED in order to scale up peer-to-peer learning;
ii) Deepen participants’ knowledge of LED in a forced displacement context, through showcasing of successful experiences, case-studies, and actionable solutions;
iii) Increase national and cross-country collaborations among HMLN members for sharing solutions in the Eastern Mediterranean region; and extend South-South learning to other countries facing similar issues;
iv) Stimulate exchanges between host local governments and development partners and experts.
The participation to the annual event was based on an expression of interest through the response to a Call for Participants addressed to HMLN local government members (elected, staff, or collaborators). The call is disseminated within the HMLN only. Selection criteria included: active participation to previous activities; relevance of the local context to forced displacement issues; active involvement in LED, and demonstrated motivation to contribute to the event. In order to confirm their participation, pre-selected candidates were be asked to complete a thematic survey on LED issues in their municipality, which will build on previous surveys done among the HMLN. A number of central government counterparts, development organizations and experts were also be invited based on their work focus and expertise. The event also welcomed a small delegation of municipal representatives from other countries hosting refugees, IDPs, or returnees, in relation to the future South-South knowledge exchange program among the Mashreq, Turkey, and beyond.