Refugee Round Table
(Photo credit: www.duesseldorf.de)
The Refugee Round Table was created as an immediate response to the increased influx of refugees and asylum seekers who have come into the city since mid-2014. Mayor Geisel put in place an instrument that connected a diverse group of citizens and experts in the fields of administration, politics, community welfare associations, churches, security agencies as well as housing companies and refugee initiatives. The main issue was to create additional housing for an estimated 7000 people within a very short period of time. Even before, the city was already faced with a shortage of housing - a problem that is all too common in any growing metropolis that sees a constant influx of people who want to live and work there. Under those circumstances, it was a number-one priority to provide humane and weather-resistant accommodations.
To have all pivotal players coming together on a monthly basis and sharing – in a very transparent manner – all the information that is available creates an enormous advantage in finding quick and efficient solutions. And although housing poses the biggest challenge in that regard, the council also confers on subjects like the improvement of health care, schooling and language training. The results until now speak for themselves: as of April 30, 2016 the city of Düsseldorf found housing (permanent as well as temporary) for 6914 refugees and asylum seekers while it constantly seeks out further options. Through the Round Table, the city created a widely spanned network of contacts that are all equally involved and ensure the fastest access to all necessary resources.
The Round Table is an initiative embedded in a wider integration effort by the city of Düsseldorf which also included the appointment of a Councillor on Refugee Issues. When Ms. Miriam Koch assumed her duties in February 2015 she was entrusted with overseeing all efforts that are undertaken with regards to refugees in Düsseldorf. After more than a year of working, the Counselor as well as the city administration have managed to build a stable network of volunteers that are essential in ensuring the smooth organization of transport, first care, as well as emotional support to those who have just arrived. The frequently visited home page provides citizens as well as refugees and asylum seekers with all the necessary information to keep the process as inclusive and transparent as possible.