MedCities was invited to take part in the inaugural Human Mobility Policy Lab, led by the Municipality of Lampedusa, as part of the ongoing efforts of our global community to implement the Lampedusa Charter on Dignified Human Mobility and Territorial Solidarity – a document approved and signed by MedCities General Assembly in Larnaca in 2022-. This was a multi-stakeholder workshop focused on solutions and barriers to a dignified migration journey, focusing on what local authorities can do to secure the rights and dignity of migrants in all phases and given any situation they may have to live in.

Dialogue, knowledge, and action for dignity

Among its seven fundamental principles, the Lampedusa Charter* -that MedCities endorsed after the  United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders Congress in Daejon- states that “It is not the migratory process that defines the vulnerabilities, but the discriminations and human rights violations that certain groups of the population endure across the journey”. This encompasses the dignified treatment of the people whose migratory endeavors fail or end in tragedy – including deaths, the disappearance of migrants, and the mourning processes of their families.

In this framework, and under the leadership of the Municipality of Lampedusa, the first Human Mobility Policy Lab brings together actors from different levels of government and different spheres of civil society, international organizations, academia, and associations of migrants and their families to discuss concrete ways to address the challenges linked to the dignified treatment of people and their families in the context of failed migratory journeys.

MedCities Secretary General, Mr. Josep Canals, participated in the active workshop in which he answered some questions such as the barriers and challenges for local authorities to manage migration or what elements are necessary to focus on this subject. Mr. Canals was the spokesperson for the migration lab table that had a homonymous point of view and agreed about the local authorities’ problems in facing the migration phenomena: “Cities don’t have the skills or the necessary resources to deal with it and they need to be provided with knowledge and economic resources, especially to manage tragic situations“. The session was specific about the mourning at the destination of people who have lost relatives on the way or on arrival. The humanitarian approach and the emotional face are now far from how these two aspects should be addressed.

As a network of Mediterranean cities and metropolitan areas, MedCities proposed to be an entity that can help councils share knowledge, raise awareness among mayors, or help as a pressure group so that the States would listen to local authorities more and better to address the challenges linked to the dignified treatment of people and their families in the context of failed migratory journeys.

MedCities presidency, represented by the vice-president of Montpellier, Mrs. Clare Hart, and the former vice-mayor of the city of Sfax, Mohamed Wajdi Aydi, also participated in the session. The participation of Sfax or Lamepusa Mayor underlined how these two municipalities face migration tragedies regularly and this human tragedy, this duty translates into an extreme need for cooperation and solidarity from other local and state actors who can support the logistical conditions in which this process takes place.

*The Lampedusa Charter was inspired by Totò Martello, former Mayor of Lampedusa with the support of Mohamed Wajdi, Vice Mayor of Sfax. The Charter is backed by the recommendations and experiences of the following MedCities member cities and networks:

  • Izmir
  • Rome
  • Mersin Metropolitan Municipality
  • Sfax
  • Barcelona
  • Sousse
  • Irbid
  • Gaziantep

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