The third day of the conference began with the keynote speech of Balint Josa, Programme Coordinator of UNITED on the cultural aspects of migrant integration. Mr Josa explained the concept of multiculturalism and current and past directions in intercultural education in Europe. He pointed out the significance of taking into consideration the multiplicity of layers of identity in the integration process and highlighted the importance of a value-based intercultural education. He regards integration as a continuous, never-ending process that requires motivation, effort and compromise from both sides. Prerequisites of successful integration are strong motivation from both sides, namely the welcoming society as well as the migrants, the emotional well-being of migrants (for that reason, for instance, PTSD training is a must for refugees), and lastly, ensuring that migrants establish their private life including engagement with the majority society and success in their professional lives.
Mr Josa continued by presenting two successful integration projects by Subjective Values Foundation (SVF) and Dekra Akademie. The ‘Get Down to Business’ project of SVF focuses on the motivational aspect of integration and aims to foster social entrepreneurship by supporting refugees in establishing their own businesses. The MAWIC project of Dekra Akademie is developing the role of the ‘migrant integration coach’ whose mandate is to ensure that migrants’ workplace integration processes happen smoothly by providing coaching for both the migrant workers as well as the employers and staff members.
The programme of the conference continued with a panel discussion on the role of civil society in the migrant integration process, facilitated by Chrissie Hirst, Deputy Head of the Democratization Department of ODIHR. Representatives of OSCE/ODIHR, the European Solidarity Centre (Poland), Network of Multicultural Associations, the International Protection Service (Italy) and the NIEM Evaluation Network. James Stockstill Civil Society Advisor presented the activities of ODIHR and elaborated on the correlation between tolerance as a key component of security and ODIHR’s role in tackling hate crimes. Major challenges in reducing hate crimes include lack of capacity by the authorities to identify and record hate incidents; lack of capacity of communities and civil society to facilitate cooperation between communities and authorities, and finally, underreporting by victims and civil society of hate incidents to the authorities. OSCE/ODIHR has developed a Hate Crime Reporting Mechanism with the aim of gaining reliable data on committed hate crimes, however, due to a wide range of reasons, bias-motivated crimes still remain underreported. Reasons behind underreporting by the victims include shame, denial, fear of disclosing, mistrust or fear of police, fear of retaliation, as well as lack of knowledge of hate crime laws.
Next, Bistra Ivanova, researcher from Association Multi Kulti Collective, from the Bulgarian partner of National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM) network shared the current state and results of the six-year-long transnational project which aims to prepare key actors in the integration field in 15 EU Member States to improve the integration outcomes of beneficiaries of international protection.
Continuing to present good practices in migrant integration, Anna Fedas, Chief Specialist on Civic Education from the European Solidarity Centre shared with the participants the successes and challenges of how an originally grassroots initiative was adopted by the municipality of Gdansk and resulted among others in establishing the first Council of Immigrants in Poland. Tatiana Gushchina, psychologist and immigrant activist gave an insightful presentation on psychological aspects affecting migrants as well as the Civic Practice Program of Gdansk city that provides educational support for migrants to facilitate their integration process via among others intercultural trainings, study visits, language support as well as assistance in formulating network of personal and professional relationships, through graduate initiatives such as a monthly film club, a Russian-speaking parents’ club, theatre performances and a club of Russian-speaking reading enthusiasts.
Giuseppe Nicolini, Project Coordinator of the SPRAR project at International Protection Service in Bologna explained the activities that SPRAR (Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees) carries out with the aim of providing local assistance for refugees and asylum seekers in the region of Bologna. SPRAR focuses on providing a welcoming reception of asylum seekers as well as encourages a positive narrative of migration. The project has provided great assistance for refugees via providing housing and supporting entrepreneurship, among others.
Next, Mustapha Seray Bah from Art 1. Midden Nederland shared his experience as a trainer and information officer regarding the challenges that migrants face on a daily basis in terms of discrimination in the labour market. He provided concrete examples of a number of instances that can hinder successful job application of migrants and explained how his organisation attempts to prepare migrants for successful labour market integration and at the same time to assist employers in hiring non-Dutch workers.
Day III of the conference finished with a final roundtable session where participants engaged in a facilitated discussion on the topics of the day and shared their conclusions as well as discussed possible solutions on improving existing practices of migrant integration.
On the last day of the conference, participants had the chance to join a study visit at three national and international organisations based in Budapest, namely the Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Organisation, Menedék Egyesület and Minority Rights Group Europe.
At Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Organisation, Mr Gibril Deen, the Director of the organisation, gave participants an insight on how football can be used as a tool to raise awareness on racism, spoke about the organisation’s past awareness-raising campaigns in Hungarian schools and provided extensive information about the activities they are currently working on. The presentation was followed by a discussion on the problems that the organisation and its members are facing at the moment under the current political situation in the country. The participants also got the chance to meet a Kenyan refugee who shared his personal story and discussed the problems with integration that he is facing in Hungary.
The next organisation visited was Menedék, the Hungarian Association for Migrants, where participants joined the closing ceremony of the ‘Inclusive schools and nurseries’ project, run by Menedék during the last year. Mr. Zsombar Lakatos briefed the participants on the scope and results of the projects which had three particular aims, namely to offer individual support for migrant children studying in Hungary, to encourage and facilitate cooperation between institutions and to provide support and information for parents who are not familiar with the Hungarian education system. He also presented the work of Menedék in the Reception Center for unaccompanied minors in Fót. The participants got more information on the situation of unaccompanied minors in Hungary and on how Menedék assists those who want to stay and integrate in the Hungarian society.
The study visit ended at the Minority Rights Group’s office, where the Director Neil Clarke and Anna Alboth gave more information on the current and past projects led by MRG in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the mission, values and strategies of the organisation. They talked about MRG’s efforts in building capacities of civil society organisations in terms of advocacy work in their countries and how the organisation facilitates building networks between NGOs working on the same issues. The participants received more details on the Eastern Partnership Minorities Network project, taking place a few years ago in Eastern European countries, as well as on a current project run in Ukraine. Anna also gave an insight to an ongoing project which aims to improve media reporting on migration in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia. Finally, the future of the Hungarian NGOs under the Stop Soros legislation was also discussed.