Over 150 participants gathered in Berlin from 12 to 14 October for ECRE’s Annual General Conference 2016. The AGC was hosted by ECRE’s German members, Diakonie Deutschland, PRO ASYL, Red Cross Germany, Caritas Germany, AWO and Der Paritätische, with Diakonie taking the lead role.

The programme began with study visits to meet with refugees and refugee-assisting organisations in Berlin. The event itself then kicked off with an opening remarks from Morten Kjaerum, the Chair of ECRE’s Board, who underlined that ECRE’s work is more needed now than at any other time in its 40-year history. Keynote speeches followed, delivered by Dr Gesine Schwan, a leading German politician and political scientist, and Vincent Cochetel, the Director of the Bureau for Europe at UNHCR.

In the afternoon of 12 October, the AGC hosted UNHCR’s annual regional consultation with NGOs, which provided an opportunity for NGOs and UNHCR to share analysis and identify opportunities for cooperation.

On 13 October, the AGC began with a plenary debate on the “externalization” agenda – Europe’s policy of outsourcing responsibility for refugee protection to other regions. The participants then divided into a set of thematic workshops, focusing on the EU-Turkey Deal, solidarity within Europe and integration. After lunch, the agenda shifted to ECRE workshops, which provided an opportunity to discuss ECRE’s response to the situation in Europe and to gather input from ECRE’s members on objectives and plans for the next three years of its work. During the evening of 13 October, PRO ASYL hosted a social event to celebrate its 30-year anniversary. The AGC wrapped up on 14 October with regional meetings and the ECRE General Assembly, where decisions on financial and practical matters were made by ECRE’s members.

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