Study Visit, Bosnian Delegation
Brussels - From 22 until 26 June, the IOM CO for Belgium and Luxembourg facilitated the study visit of a delegation from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Ministry of Security – Sector for Immigration, within the framework of the ‘Support to the Immigration and Asylum Management System in Bosnia and Herzegovina’ Project.
Financed by Switzerland and Lichtenstein and jointly implemented by the BiH Ministry of Security and IOM Sarajevo, this project particularly focuses on the Comprehensive integration of foreigners legally residing in BiH. Amongst EU Member States, the Kingdom of Belgium has been chosen as a potentially most compatible country when it comes to the institutional setting (federal State) in this particular field.
Under the Strategy in the Area of Migrations and Asylum for the Period 2012-2015, BiH has set a new objective, namely the integration of foreigners legally residing in Bosnia and Herzegovina into different areas of the society, especially establishing and strengthening the capacity of institutions for efficient integration of foreigners. The development of integration indicators and the creation of mechanisms for data collection and processing, as well as the update of integration indicators of foreigners legally residing in BiH are all defined as strategic activities that need to be implemented in 2015 by the Ministry of Security – Sector for Immigration.
Though migration and integration is not yet a big issue in Bosnia, it is foreseen that this could rapidly change, both due to current increases in migration from the Middle East and Africa and Croatian entry into Schengen. Furthermore, ad-hoc developments (such as possible building of a wall between Hungary and Serbia) could quickly change migration routes.
During the study visit, meetings were conducted with several institutions and agencies active in the integration field in Belgium, namely: the Immigration Office, the Federal Public Service Social Integration, the Agency in charge of integration in Flanders (Agentschap Integratie en inburgering), the Brussels’ reception agency for integration (BON), the Regional Integration Center for Flanders (Foyer) and Wallonia, the Public Service in Wallonia in charge of culture, education, health care and assistance to citizens for the French-speaking habitants of Brussels.
The aim of the exchange visit was to use the findings for the development of capacities of the BiH Ministry of Security, by improving the level of knowledge on integration, as well as to learn on the practices, knowledge and experiences of an EU member state in implementing the policy of integrating foreigners. The participants learned more on how a host country regulates certain issues concerning the integration of foreigners and how it monitors the participation of immigrants in the economic, social and cultural life of the host country. New knowledge and experiences of the host country would be used to strengthen capacities for the development of indicators, collection, analysis and dissemination of data on the integration of foreigners in BiH.
The Bosnian delegation was all in all very much impressed by the professionalism and resources put towards integration in Belgium.
Key discussion topics can be summarized as follows:
- The inclusive and horizontal integration policy in Flanders
- The management of integration databases
- The monitoring and evaluating of the integration strategy
- The specific help provided to migrants during the integration process
- The cooperation among different state agencies (municipalities, labour offices, OCMWs, etc…) and the specific challenges in Brussels
- How different aspects of the integration programme are adapted to origins and level of education of the migrants
- The legal support given to migrants and the Roma strategy in Brussels
A selection of pictures taken during the study visit can be viewed here.