The Launching Event of the SOAM Program coincided -not accidentally- with the International Migrants Day (18 December). It was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the auditorium “Yannos Kranidiotis” (Akadimias 1), which was given gratis to IOM Athens.
Invited were representatives of non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations active in the field of asylum and immigration in Greece, representatives of agencies that operate reception centers for asylum seekers, with emphasis on unaccompanied minors, representatives of refugee and immigrant communities in Athens, officers and executives of public bodies with duties relevant to the Program, representatives of local authorities, foreign diplomatic missions in the country, journalists of printed and electronic media, high level officials involved in managing migratory flows in Greece, representatives of international and European organizations. In addition, invitations were sent to representatives from competent Ministries (such as the Ministry of Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks as the National Focal Point for the EEA funded programs through its Special Agency for the Management and Monitoring of Other Development Programs, The Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection, the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights, the Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Welfare and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
Welcome speeches were addressed by Daniel Esdras, Head of Office, IOM Office in Greece and HEM Sjur Larsen, Ambassador of Norway in Greece. The Secretary General for Civil Protection of the Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection, Patroklos Georgiadis, as well as the Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation, Panayiotis Michalos made small interventions, followed by Per Engan-Schei, Director of Regions, Reception and Return of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).
The event continued with a more detailed description of the SOAM Program and discussion through questions and answers from attendees and members of the IOM ATHENS to conclude with a light lunch.