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Middle East programme – Mannheim and Kilis successfully complete their first joint project

During the visit of a delegation from their Turkish partner city of Kilis in conjunction with the first joint project , the City of Mannheim called a press conference on 18 April 2018. At the press conference the Mayor of Mannheim, Dr Peter Kurz, Hüysein Erkmen, representing the City of Kilis, and Mustafa Dedekeloglu of the Working Group of Islamic Communities in Mannheim (AKIG), presented the joint work of the two cities and the results of the project 'Education for Integration'.

'Municipalities are key actors for the major global issues. This is felt most directly when dealing with refugees. This is why something needs to be done at a practical level in the areas from which people flee, and in the areas where refugees are first hosted. In Mannheim we are setting a good example through development cooperation with Kilis', explained the Mayor, Dr Kurz. Representing Engagement Global and its Service Agency Communities in One World, Kurt-Michael Baudach attended the conference in his capacity as Head of Department for Municipal Partnerships – Countries and Regions. In his speech he praised the extraordinary engagement of the City of Mannheim, and particularly the fact that it was the first German municipality to propose and implement a project as part of the Municipal Know-How for Host Communities in the Middle East programme. He also praised its exemplary cooperation with the AKIG.

Its proximity to the border means that the City of Kilis is particularly affected by the influx of Syrian refugees. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the original population of 90,000 have been joined by 129,000 refugees. On the initiative of a member of the AKIG who comes from Kilis, since 2017 a cooperation arrangement between the two cities has been established in order to tackle the major challenges. As a sign of the close cooperation between the municipality and the AKIG the press conference was held in the Yavuz Sultan Selim mosque in Mannheim. Engagement Global's Service Agency Communities in One World supported the process from the outset by providing funding and advisory inputs.

The first project phase, running from July 2017 to May 2018, focused on the sharing of lessons learned between municipalities and the training of teachers at vocational training centres. The first step involved conducting a needs analysis for the local labour market and determining the educational status of the refugee women in Kilis. Two workshops were held at which experts from the City of Mannheim and the City of Kilis discussed refugee work, vocational training and women's empowerment, and jointly developed a strategy to promote the social and economic integration of the refugee women. Two training measures were held at the Justus von Liebig School in Mannheim at which 16 Turkish instructors were able to further develop their subject-specific and teaching skills in the fields of hairdressing/cosmetology, textile processing, food and education management. Teaching and training materials for the training centres were also procured.