„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


9th October 2019

From 29th. September – 4th. October 2019 the World Alliance of YMCAs, in close co-operation with the YMCA of the USA, organised the first Global Summit on Immigrants, Migrants and Refugees in Baltimore(USA)

Invited were participants from Ethiopia, Colombia, Canada, Greece, Cameroon, Germany, Uruguay, Finland, Hong Kong, Lebanon, USA, the World Alliance, Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs and YMCA Europe. In total of approx. 25-30 participants.

YMCA Germany was represented by Gerhard Wiebe and Anthea Roth; YMCA Finland by Juha Virtanen (not present in the picture) and Milla Mäkinen; YMCA Greece by Dolores Tararfeta and YMCA Europe by Ed Eggink as Chair of the YMCA Europe Working Group on Refugees. Anthea and Milla are also part of this Working Group.

The meeting was excellently facilitated by YMCA of the USA and by Andrew Selee of the Migration Policy Institute. Next to the discussions in the group, presentations were given by the World Alliance, YMCA Germany, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), YMCA of the USA, Welcoming International and the Jesuit Refugee Services.

The meeting aimed at developing concrete plans for the implementation of the Resolution which was presented by YMCA Germany and adopted at the World Council 2018 in Chiang Mai. The hard work during this week resulted in concrete proposals for actions and follow up activities which will be worked out and presented to the Executive Committee of the World Alliance and to the members.

It was, amongst others, proposed to work on a common vision and to establish on a short term working groups/platforms in each of the Area Organisations to co-ordinate and stimulate this work within the Area and to start inventorying the current and future YMCA projects with and for refugees. YMCA Canada and the YMCA of the USA already have a good infrastructure in this field.

The YMCA Europe Working Group and the European database with refugee projects, which was launched at YMCA 175, may serve as an example or guidance to follow up on this. The database contains in the meantime 49 YMCA projects in 13 European National Movements and is still expanding.

The World Alliance is building Communities of Impact (COI) to overarch each of its strategic pillars, including the work for Immigrants, migrants and refugees. The COI for immigrants, migrants and refugees will be led by YMCA Canada, also with participation from Europe. The World Alliance will soon publish its composition.

The participants in the Summit joined for 2 days the Diversity, Inclusion and Global (DIG) Innovation network conference of YMCA of the USA in which more than 450 leaders of local YMCAs in the USA participated. This work with refugees, migrants, minorities, etc. is of growing social importance within the YMCA in the USA and in the local societies. A good experience with inspirational speeches from Carlos Sanvee (Secretary-General World Alliance of YMCAs) and Kevin Washington (CEO and President of YMCA-USA) as highlights.

The European working group on refugees will discuss the takeaways from these meetings for the work in Europe.

For more information contact the YMCA Europe Working Group on refugees via info[at]ymcaeurope.com

Author/Source: Ed Eggink as Chair of the YMCA Europe Working Group on Refugees