Together we are building a space for the integration of migrants and refugees

Association Atina and partners, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and NGO Macedonian Lawyers Association began implementing an international project “Building together”, during which work will be done on integration of migrants into the societies of Serbia and Macedonia.

The circumstances in which the countries on the Balkan route have been since the escalation of refugee crisis in 2015 continues to pose a serious challenge to the states and societies of Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia... Refugees, mostly those from war-torn countries of the Middle East, have due to political decisions been forced to remain in the camps of Southeast European countries. Human rights of the entire refugee/migrant population are endangered in such circumstances, and especially the most vulnerable groups in it - women and children.

The result of the scope of the refugee wave that swept these countries in the spring of 2015 is that today, in Serbia alone, there are more than 7,500 refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq. They live in 17 camps and centers, hoping to either continue their journey to Western and Northern Europe, or find a decent life in the country they are waiting in. Civil society organizations are, in coordination with relevant government institutions and bodies, working on programs of social activation of refugees and migrants in camps and centers. However, analyzing the reports of relevant organizations and the media, it is clear that the situation in the camps is apathetic, and that every incident refugees and migrants participate in easily grows into an organized discontent of the local population. Association Atina has realized the challenges of coexistence between the local population and refugees and migrants on time, as well as the importance of mutual integration. Integration in this sense would mean nothing more than unity and association through mutual introduction, understanding and solidarity of local population with people who were forced by real life misfortune to find themselves in a foreign country.

Such intentions have initiated the implementation of the project “Building together - Community Monitoring and Advocacy” in February 2017.

This project is funded by the European Union, and implemented by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Atina - Citizens’ Association for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and All Forms of Gender-based Violence, and the Macedonian Lawyers Association (MLA). The project is being implemented in ten cities and municipalities in Serbia and Macedonia: in Subotica, Sid, Sremska Mitrovica, Belgrade, Presevo, Vranje, Kumanovo, Gevgelija, and two municipalities in Skopje.

Within this project, three organizations will, with the engagement of external experts, create a comprehensive analysis of the position of migrants and refugees in Serbia and Macedonia, make a series of recommendations for improving the conditions of coexistence of migrants and refugees with the population in Serbia and Macedonia, strengthen organizations in the ten cities and municipalities to cooperate mutually and control the implementation of planned activities. In addition, ten representatives from local governments in Serbia and Macedonia will visit Germany, where they will be introduced with the examples of good practice in the integration of refugees. A documentary will also be filmed about the life of migrants in Serbia and Macedonia, and local nongovernmental organizations will be supported to implement the advocacy actions of sustainable coexistence in their communities.

All project activities will be implemented through cooperation within Local networks in ten municipalities and cities which gather representatives of relevant organizations, institutions and bodies: the police, centers for social work, and other services to the relevant ministry, management of local governments, health and education system, as well as representatives of local NGOs.

The project “Building together – Community Monitoring and Advocacy“ will last for two years.