All aspects of integration are equally important for the inclusion of migrants in Montenegrin society

All aspects of integration are equally important for the inclusion of migrants in Montenegrin society

Podgorica, March 25 – Out of 539 submitted applications for international protection, a total of 8 foreigners achieved asylum status in 2020, while 115 people were accommodated in the Reception Center in Spuž and the its department in Božaj.

This was announced at the online international conference “Towards Social Cohesion through the Social Inclusion of Migrants“, which was done over the ZOOM platform, organized by CEDEM within the program “Europe for Citizens” funded by the European Commission.

“The great mobility of the population has conditioned our societies to become increasingly multicultural, as well as to question the national identities of relatively homogeneous nations. The new wave of multiculturalism has shown a very pronounced polarization on migration issues in public discourse, with the expression of great intolerance, xenophobia and disrespect for human rights,” said Milena Bešić, Director of CEDEM, in her introductory address.

Kristina von Petersdorff, the UNHCR’s protection officer, states that refugees, like all of us, are primarily people, but that they are forced to live in specific conditions. The vast majority of refugees use every opportunity to integrate and that “countries like Montenegro, by taking on the responsibility to accept and integrate refugees, not only save lives – but also contribute to their social, cultural and economic development.”

Dušica Živković, Head of the Office of the International Organization for Migrants in Montenegro, stated that “their mobile team, especially in the reception center on Božaj, employs over 17 people and provides medical, social and other services to migrants, with two meals.” She assessed that they currently have the capacity to receive more migrants and that the situation on the ground is under control.

“All aspects of integration are equally important, such as finding a job, good knowledge and use of language skills, integration of children into the education system, knowledge of culture, but also the existence of one person’s social capital,” said Darka Minić, UNHCR representative.

Minić said that only when all these aspects are satisfied, we can say that this person has integrated into our society. She mentioned that with the support they provide in the form of translation and referral to the functioning of the system, they cooperate with all line ministries, agencies and directorates dealing with the same or similar issues, with the aim of exchanging knowledge and best practices to improve quality of work and services they provide.

“According to the records of the Directorate for the Integration of Aliens with Approved International Protection and Reintegration of Returnees upon Readmission, during 2020 there were 38 foreigners with approved international protection. Currently, 37 foreigners with approved international protection reside in Montenegro, and out of that number, 18 foreigners are entitled to integration into Montenegrin society,” said Marina Grba, a social worker in the Directorate for Reception of Foreigners Seeking International Protection within the Ministry of Interior.

During the second day of the conference, at the panel dedicated to the role of civil society organizations, participants had the opportunity to hear the experiences of direct support providers in various fields.

Civil society organizations have a crucial role to play in improving integration and achieving social cohesion, as well as in cooperation between civil society organizations currently operating by providing knowledge in different areas related to the migration context and providing expertise to achieve synergies with the aim of better handling of issues and assisting migrants”, stated Jelena Dubak, Secretary General of the Red Cross of Montenegro, and noted that this issue should be approached in a humane way and that when we look at migrants as statistics, numbers and figures, their status is endangered, and that we should look at them as all other people and fellow citizens – mothers, fathers, children, men, women, families, but above all, people with problems who need help.

Aleksandra Vukčević, project coordinator at the Civic Alliance, explained that the organization she comes from provides free legal aid to asylum seekers or persons granted international or subsidiary protection, where their team consists of two lawyers, two field workers and two translators.

“Language barriers are very problematic, but not common, as most of our users come from Arabic-speaking countries, and in cooperation with other organizations and institutions we overcome problems if we have speakers from Urdu or Farsi speaking areas.” said Vukčević.

Marija Ružić Stajović, Director of the Program for Improving the Capacity of Civil Society Organizations, System Institutions and Media in the Juventas Organization, said that “there is a need for better coordination of civil services dealing with integration of beneficiaries of international legal protection and the civil sector which is also important in providing services to this population. “

Aleksandra Grujović, project manager in the organization “Art of Living”, explained that the program they implement contributes to the socialization of migrants and in releases people of trauma, in times when positive human values ​​are dominated by fear, anger and hopelessness, and lead to aggression, intolerance and depression. The methods are effective, proven and practical. It is an approach that addresses the whole person, from physical therapy, through powerful breathing techniques and meditations, which increases our energy and bring us into contact with the deep existential part of our personality. “

The international conference is part of the project “ALL IN: Pathways to Belonging: From Intercultural Dialogue to Social Inclusion“.