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Lesbos Dialogues: bringing solutions to the refugee crisis

The first Lesbos dialogue took place in Mytilene, November 9 to 11. The seminar was dedicated to how technology, mainly communication technology, can support the refugees, the host communities, and the organisations that are involved in the crisis.

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The first Lesbos dialogue took place in Mytilene, 9 to 11 November 2017

In 2015 and 2016, tens of thousands of people, escaping war, violence and economic instability in their home countries arrived on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey. Hundreds of people drowned while attempting this sea crossing.

By Massiel C. Henriquez Parodi

Lesbos Dialogues is an international and interdisciplinary project led by the University of Agder in collaboration with the municipality of Lesbos in Greece.

The project focuses on concrete solutions to the refugee crisis. It aims to provide a better understanding of the main issues related to the refugee crisis in Greece and Europe, propose realistic solutions on handling such issues and promote close dialogues between academy, political and local authorities, corporate stakeholders, civil society, NGOs and representatives of the refugees.

A call for action

Each Lesbos Dialogue will produce a manifesto: a guideline document that will explain the important things that were addressed during the dialogues and state the concrete actions proposed after each conversation. The University of Agder wants to become a facilitator for the main stakeholders to come to an agreement and to help them channel their efforts towards a common goal instead of incurring in a series of individual, isolated actions. UiA wants to be an instrument for the accomplishment of synergies in Lesbos.

The role of technology in solving the refugee crisis

The first dialogue is “Technology and the refugee crisis” organized in Mytilene, Greece from November 9 to 11 and will be opened by the Norwegian Embassy in Greece, the Mayor of Lesbos and the Vice Rector for Research and Development of the University of Agder Stephen Seiler.

This first dialogue focused on how technology can support the refugees and host communities. The solutions proposed during the seminar have been around social innovation, mobile learning, modelling and crowdfunding. Each one of the central themes have a hands-on approach, for example, to use e-health to help the communities or to use modelling to bring concrete solutions, using historical data to determine possible case scenarios that could happen in the future, helping the city to prepare for it.

Professor Apostolos Spanos

Professor Apostolos Spanos, initiator and leader of the Lesbos Dialogues project.

As Professor Apostolos Spanos, initiator and leader of the Lesbos Dialogues project, says: “We cannot anymore talk about the refugee crisis without taking into consideration the host communities. Now, particularly in places like Greece where the local society and the society in general has its own challenges because of the economic crisis, we cannot simply focus only on the refugees, we have to think about a kind of triangle where we have the local communities, the refugees and the subject you are discussing, in this case technology.”

The dialogue will conclude with a Crowdfunding seminar aiming to gather ideas on how entrepreneurship and tools such as mobile learning can benefit the refugees and communities involved. The University of Agder is gathering efforts to help both and to bring solutions to the refugee crisis.

For more information about the programme, the panelists and the themes that have been discussed, please visit our website.