Round table

On December 18, 2018, IRIS Network observed the International Migrants Day by organizing a Round Table on Protection Sensitive Migration Management in Brussels. The Round Table event was organized as a part of the project IRIS NETWORKing – CSOs for protection sensitive migration management, funded by the European Union.

The purpose of the event was to present the current situation related to migration in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro as well as Findings and Recommendations from the Guide on referral system/social service delivery for migrants to relevant Embassy representatives and Brussels based decision makers.

Miodrag Nedeljkovic, IDC Executive Director, gave an introductory speech, explaining that the goal of IRIS Network is to bring together national networks of social service providers from WB region. He also added that the main and most important goal of this project is better social care for most vulnerable groups who do not have proper services provided by local or national governments. Jelena Andjelic, IRIS NETWORKing Project Manager, stressed that the main goal is to put a focus on the significance of the networking among CSOs in Western Balkans in terms of capacity building of all national actors as well as enhancing the regional cooperation on all levels. It was a pleasure to host Liselotte Isaksson, Head of Sector – Civil Society and social inclusion – Western Balkans Regional Cooperation and Programmes in European Commission, DG NEAR, as one of the speakers. She stressed that migration remains to be on the EU Agenda, that CSO are key partners to work with and that social welfare should be more integrated into EU policies.
While, Masa Mitrovic, project partner representing ASB, gave an overview of IRIS Network background in the period since 2012 and explained the synergy with ongoing Social Dimension Initiative project. She concluded that IRIS Network is now more than project and is a platform for exchange, cooperation and influencing at all levels.

Following, IRIS Network National Coordinators, presented the migration related situation in their respective countries.
Jelena Anđelić presenting the situation in Serbia, said that the regional cooperation is particularly important in the context of the most vulnerable migrants and refugees, such as unaccompanied minors, women victims of trafficking, victims of torture, in order to ensure protection in line with international standards, but also to demonstrate responsibility towards the most vulnerable individuals. In the context of protection of the most vulnerable, it is also important to strengthen mechanisms for early identification and differentiation of various categories identified in the migration flow. Biljana Zgonjanin, from LIR CD, IRIS Network Bosnia and Herzegovina, informed the participants that the most recent data on migrants shows that there are 21.201 migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the crisis influenced methods of working with beneficiaries, which have been adapted to new circumstances. The refugees crises should in no case be considered as ended, the movement is still a reality, however on unregulated routes, which makes the refugees invisible and away from the protection system and on the mercy of the smuggling criminal groups, said Stojne Atanasovska Dimishkovska, from Open Gate: La Strada Macedonia, IRIS Network National Coordinator. Ana Majko from Social Organization for Support of Youth – Arsis, IRIS Network National Coordinator Albania, informed that participants that the number of migrants passing through Albania is higher than reported and that human trafficking is a big issue. She also said that UNHCR in Albania is working on a new database that will contribute to improved migration management in Albania. Biljana Zekovic, from SOS Telephone, National Coordinator Montenegro stressed that protection monitoring results, among 1.600 migrants, showed that were no reported violations by the police and migrants’ rights were fully protected.

The following session dealt with Recommendations on the regional level by indicating areas which have been recognized as ones where regional cooperation is needed and can contribute to protection sensitive migration management on the level of Western Balkans, which were presented by regional expert on social issues Mr. Zarko Sunderic.

The last session was dedicated to more networking opportunities in WB and on the EU level in terms of discussing the possibilities for the enhancement of the cooperation and communication as well as creating synergies between different stakeholders. Mr. Alexander Friedrich from Samaritan International presented the cooperation in terms of providing emergency response to migration crisis, among other activities.

It can be concluded that the participants were provided with an in-depth overview of migrant management in Western Balkans, that important networking was established between IRIS Network and EU decision makers engaged in migrant management and Embassy representatives. The Round Table is definitely a significant and important step forward in brining closer the issue of migrant management in Western Balkans to EU interlocutors for the purpose of future cooperation and exchange of information on the issue.

Regional Social Academy of Iris Network

From 26th – 29th November, First Regional Social Academy of IRIS Network was held in Belgrade. This event gathered 18 distinctive mid-career public servants, scholars, activists and professionals from civil society organizations from the region. The Academy offered participants a unique opportunity to benefit from a diversified training package, exploring migration policy and governance in the region, linkages between migration and social service delivery, and instruments and mechanisms for protecting migrants’ rights. Participants attended 4 day tailor-made training consisted of different learning methodologies including lectures, workshops, discussions and field visits. The aim of academy was to increase access to and level up the practical social service skills and competences of participants, raise awareness about the importance of practice-oriented protection based migration management in region and ingrain it in the activities of various stakeholder groups in follow up.

First day on IRIS Regional Social Academy was reserved for Vladimir Petronijević, director of group 484, who presented EU response to migration – current situation and announced steps forward.

Afterwards, Introduction Workshop was held, on topic Refugee and Migration Crisis and Western Balkan- Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. All participants from Serbia, FYROM, Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina had opportunity to present migration policy and situation in their countries, and also to exchange mutual experiences, as well as the situations and problems they faced as social service providers.



Good practice of migration management was topic of second day on Academy, where two experts showed participants examples of treatment migration population: Prof. dr Ivana Krstić, professor on Faculty of Law in Belgrade presented the standards of treatment different categories within migrant’s population and Svetlana Velimirović, Deputy of Commissar for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia presented international legal ground for reception of migrants and introduced participants with EASO reception standards.



Additional to this, as best field practice, participants had opportunity to visit one of the biggest reception camp and asylum centre in Serbia – Camp Krnjača and Elementary School “Branko Pešić “in Zemun.

Manager of the Asylum Centre in Krnjača Mrs Djurdja Šurlan, presentend the short history of Centre, with retrospective on migrant crisis past few years. She spoke about the toughest times when the migrant crisis was on the rise and several thousand asylum seekers were approaching the door of these baracks daily. She also presented the problems and challenges they have been faced with, cooperation with goverment sector and social service providers, then, as today.



„Branko Pešić“ is an elementary school that mainly works with a marginal and vulnerable group of children and those who have fallen out of the education system. Thus, it has become an example of good practice when it comes to educating young migrants. The director of the school Mr. Nenad Ćirić presented to Academy participants the system of working with migrants that is being conducted in this school and the way that he and his staff motivate these children to learn in special conditions.



On third day of Regional Social Academy, Maša Vukčević Marković from PIN network shared her experience in empowering the migrants’ population. Psychosocial working with migrants, universal standards in providing mental health services, multisectoral approach, were just few of the topic covered in this lecture. About working with unaccompanied minors, Ivana Vukašević from HCIT introduced the participants with legal framework, definition of minor groups and working with them, pedagogical and psychological approach, role of NGOs and government sector. Sanja Kljajić wrapped up the third day with topic: role of the social welfare system in securing and providing protection and services to the vulnerable groups of migrants and refugees.



Academy was closed on fourth day with final workshop: Agreement on the structure and content of the presentations for home country communities.

Successful Academy participants obtained certificates, and entered Alumni Association of the IRIS Network.



Upon this training each of the participants will be delivering informative session/workshop to their communities/organizations/institutions. Outstanding results at the Academy will be seen as an advantage when applying for EU based traineeships organized by IRIS Network. This is the first of four Academies planned to be held within IRIS Networking in next two years. After the Academy, five participants will have the opportunity to receive the scholarship for traineeship in the relevant organization social service providers located in EU.