Second regional meeting - Coordinators of local networks in Serbia and Macedonia exchanged experiences on migrant issues


Representatives of the cities and municipalities with the highest number of migrants in Serbia met last week in Skopje with colleagues from Macedonia. On this occasion, coordinators of networks in Sid, Subotica, Sremska Mitrovica, Belgrade, Vranje, Presevo, and colleagues from Gevgelija, Kumanovo, and Skopje exchanged their experiences on the implementation of the project “Building together”.

The main topic of the regional meeting were first monitoring reports showing the state of the system for support and integration of migrants. “Conclusions of the reports from six cities in Serbia are that the regulation of refugee/migrant issue mostly comes from the ‘central’ and ‘above’, with the lack of sufficient participation of local institutions and bodies in their drafting. This ultimately leads to, for example, the fact that there is an insufficient number of field social workers in Sid, and that the local community in Vranje was not informed that a center for the accommodation of migrants will be opened in that city,” said Jelena Hrnjak from the Association Atina.

It was emphasized during the meeting that the greatest work in both countries was devoted to the inclusion of children into the education system and that now it is time to create conditions for employment of persons from the refugee/migrant population, which is one of the most important prerequisites for a quality integration. At the end of the meeting, a representative of Macedonian Ministry of Labor addressed the participants and spoke about the activities this institution has undertaken during and after the crisis with the aim to improve the position of refugees and facilitate their access to basic protection and support services.

On this occasion, a visit was organized to Vizbegovo Reception Center near Skopje, as well as to Transit Center Tabanovce in the municipality of Kumanovo, at the very border with Serbia, during which support activities for refugees and migrants that are being conducted in these centers were presented. Currently, there are between 30 and 50 persons accommodated in these two centers, mostly from the countries of Middle East, and most of them are involved in various support programs.

In the coming period, local networks participating in the “Building Together” project will work on a research for the purpose of creating another monitoring report, conduct local advocacy campaigns, and travel to a study visit to Germany.

The project “Building Together - Community Monitoring and Advocacy” is being implemented in above-mentioned cities for over a year by Association Atina together with NGO Macedonian Lawyers’ Association and Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and with the financial support of the European Union.