Atina at the conference “Good Practices and Challenges in Supporting Children in Migration”

Atina at the conference “Good Practices and Challenges in Supporting Children in Migration”

On June 14, 2017, a conference “Good Practices and Challenges in Supporting Children in Migration” was held in Belgrade, organized by International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Save the Children.

The conference gathered 75 professionals who discussed about the issues they are facing when it comes to provision of support to children, especially separated and unaccompanied children, from the refugee population. In addition to the representatives of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Social and Veteran Affairs, the conference was attended by representatives of state institutions, international and local nongovernmental organizations, among whom was Atina’s representative as well.

Children currently make up more than 40% of the total refugee population in Serbia, while almost half of them, about 1,200, are unaccompanied. As a particularly vulnerable category, these children are exposed to numerous risks which are increasing in an inadequate accommodation. For this very reason, participants discussed the best ways to provide support to these children, either through accommodation in special units with the public institutions for child care, or through accommodation in foster families, and small assisted living communities for adolescents.

Atina’s representative, Marija Cvejic, held a presentation at the conference, during which she spoke about Atina’s experience in work with children refugees, challenges they have been facing in the field, and examples of good practice which can be useful to other actors engaged in this field. She emphasized the importance of intersectoral cooperation between governmental, international and local organizations, forming the network of actors at the local level, and strengthening their capacities to provide adequate protection and support to children refugees.

In the period from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, Atina was implementing a project “Making a difference for refugee children” at 12 locations in Serbia with the support of International Rescue Committee. During that time, in addition to direct support and assistance to children, the organization was also actively involved in the development of policies and practices, and raising capacities of field workers for the approach adapted to gender, age, and the culture these children are coming from.

This conference represented an excellent opportunity for participants to summarize the results of previous work, exchange experiences and opinions, but also to reconsider the most effective ways of solving the challenges they are most often facing in direct work with children refugees.