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Gabriel Péri Square: Mediation activities for sustainable social integration in Lyon



The city of Lyon has a rich migratory history and new arrivals often find their way to Gabriel Péri square. This location acts as an important landing place for migrants, playing an important role in the reception, accommodation and integration of Lyon’s diverse populations.

However, in recent years, social tensions have increased at Gabriel Péri square. In particular, the intensification of a daily informal market run by migrants, along with activities in and around the area’s asylum seeker and homeless shelters, have combined to create an atmosphere of insecurity for local residents and shopkeepers.

In order to mitigate these challenges, the City of Lyon first invested heavily in exclusionary planning measures aiming to secure the public space. However, this approach did not produce satisfactory results. On the contrary, draconian measures only served to heighten the sense of unease within the neighbourhoods.

More recently, the City has adopted a more integrated approach, as can be seen within the pilot project Agence Lyon Tranquillité Médiation (ALTM). This initiative, designed to maintain a secure and peaceful environment Gabriel Péri square, deploys uniformed mediators to promote long-term social cohesion in a specific and ‘problematic’ area of the city. This state-led intervention exemplifies how social cohesion can be strengthened through a collective, holistic approach that aims at building bridges rather than promoting exclusionary security measures.

This case study was developed in the framework of the Mediterranean City-to-City Migration Project (MC2CM), a project coordinated by ICMPD and funded by the European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The MC2CM project has been working since 2015 with Amman, Beirut, Lisbon, Lyon, Madrid, Tangiers, Tunis, Turin and Vienna to increase the knowledge base on urban migration.

Additionally, the project has sought to nurture a peer-to-peer dialogue and mutual learning on specific urban challenges such as social cohesion, intercultural dialogue, employment and provision of basic services for migrants, among others.