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Integration of migrants and refugees – innovative practices (NIEM Second National Coalition Meeting in Bulgaria)

Bistra Ivanova, Anna Krasteva, Kina Sabeva

On  February 2nd  2017, Multi Kulti Collective and the Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants organized the NIEM Second National Coalition Meeting in the format of an intercultural evening:  “The integration of migrants and refugees – innovative practices”.  The event was organized in partnership with the Center for European, Refugee, Migrant and Ethnic Studies within the New Bulgarian University.

The objective of the meeting was to present and promote the NIEM project to a wideraudience via a different format. The goal was threefold:  to share and exchange ideas and practices of integration through innovative business initiatives, employment, education, and art; to develop and strengthen civil society networks of interculturality, openness, and solidarity; and to enjoy  multicultural communication together.  The intercultural evening involved participants from different circles, including national and local public administration, international organizations, civil society structures, academia, and culture.

At the start of the evening, the national partners presented the planned activities and expected outcomes of the NIEM projects, and underlined the need to develop an environment supportive for integration of beneficiaries of international protection. Throughout the course of the evening, participants presented best practices for refugee integration, including innovative employment and entrepreneurship activities, tailor-made activities for women and children, and inventive way to support integration through art and culture. A group of young actors presented a play devoted to refugee life.

The Representative of UNHCR in Bulgaria addressed the event and put forth the following question to participants: What has to be done in order to most effectively support refugee integration in Bulgaria? Finally, the participants of the event had the opportunity to listen to the stories shared by refugees who integrated successfully in Bulgaria. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of a recently published poetry book¸ written and recited in Arabic and Bulgarian by the author, a refugee from Iran.

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NIEM is co-financed by the European Union, Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and by the Foundation Open Society Institute in cooperation with the OSIFE of the Open Society Foundations.

Photo: Evelina Staykova