Balkan Exchange Week
From 4 to 8 November 2019, IOM Belgium together with Caritas International and Fedasil, organized a Balkan exchange week. IOM offices from Albania, Northern Macedonia, Kosovo* and Serbia, Caritas Serbia and Caritas partner C.S.I Nadez (Northern Macedonia) were present in Belgium to share their experience with Belgian counterparts.
The agenda included discussions around subjects related to the period most of migrants pass in Belgium during their asylum-seeking process, concerns addressed when a possible voluntary return is envisaged, and challenges they face after return to their country of origin.
The partners from the Balkans were familiarized with the asylum system and reception network in Belgium, which was presented by Fedasil Study and Policy services, on Tuesday 5th. In addition, a tour visit to Fedasil reception center Petit-Chateau in Brussels on Wednesday 6th, gave the opportunity to see in practice the life in a reception center through the asylum application process via Immigration Office to registration and dispatching, and the use of different services in the center.
A broad overview of Belgian education system with focus on migrant pupils schooling process, presented by Mentor Jeune asbl (Mentor Escale) provided the occasion to exchange on the challenge of use and recognition of school certificates and diplomas obtained in Belgium after return that adds to the problematic of returns of families with children.
On 7 November, a joint event- Balkan Exchange Day served as a forum for IOM, Caritas, Fedasil and implementing partners from both inside Belgium and the Balkan region, to talk over the successes and challenges of the ‘Administrative Assistance’ project.
The implementing partners presented their experiences with the programme and the overall migration context in the Balkans.
The round-table activities held over the course of the day bore fruitful discussions between local partners in Belgium and the Balkans to better understand each other’s context, operations and needs, which will lead for better collaboration and an improved reintegration process for beneficiaries.
A separate meeting of IOM participants was held with IOM Regional office on an exchange and overview on AVRR with focus on Western Balkans, and EU migration policy approach on the region.
A thorough analysis of the ‘Administrative assistance’ project that runs specially for the Balkan region in the framework of the Belgian AVRR brought together participants on exchanges between countries on practices of the implementation of the project, follow-up, challenges and suggestions for the ways forward. The conclusions and recommendations will be part of the evaluation of the project for the coming year.
To read more about Administrative Assistance in the Balkans, click here.
* References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).