Barcelona and Leipzig agree to share refugee support plans

As part of the visit to Leipzig, the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, and her German counterpart, Burkhard Jung, agreed to share the experiences of their respective support plans for refugees and strengthen the European network of refuge cities.

The Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, met her Leipzig counterpart, Burkhard Jung, in Germany on Thursday to get detailed information on the city’s experience of taking in refugees. One of the agreements made during the meeting was to share the development of their respective support plans and strengthen the European network of refuge cities.

During the meeting, both mayors underlined the role the cities are taking in addressing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. “Laws are made by states, but the reality has an impact on cities” explained Colau.

Leipzig expects 5,000 refugees this year

The mayor, the coordinator of the “Barcelona, Refuge City” plan, Ignasi Calbó, and the director of social emergencies in Barcelona, Isabel Ferrer, also met those heading the plan in Leipzig, which expects to receive over 5,000 refugees this year. Because of this, it is not just a question of the initial reception organised by cities, but also the policy needed to foster the inclusion and integration of those arriving.

Colau reiterated the commitment to working in a coordinated fashion with all administrations and ensuring the plan is an open instrument shared by everybody. “We have to be ready for all scenarios and that’s why we’re here, to get a first-hand look at what other cities are getting right and what they are not” explained the mayor. She also stressed that under no circumstances would policy relating to refugees affect resources and services for Barcelona residents or any services offered by Barcelona City Council.

Leipzig currently has twenty reception centres for refugees, with those arriving staying there between 3 months and 1 year until they have a stable housing solution. Colau, Calbó and Ferrer visited one of these centres, where over 100 people of 16 different nationalities are currently staying. “Now we have to make a detailed analysis of the experience in Leipzig, which has a high level structure” explained Calbó. During the visit, members of the group from Barcelona also spoke to workers at the centre. The mayor rounded off the work in Leipzig with an informal meeting with representatives from social collectives in the city.