Manifesto on Refugee Integration in Bulgaria
PUBLISHERMulti Kulti Collective
YEAR OF PUBLICATION
This Manifesto on Refugee Integration in Bulgaria is a national programme document and an advocacy tool which covers all the main areas of refugees’ integration in Bulgaria. It is based on the understanding that integration is an investment allowing newcomers to get involved in the country’s economic, social and cultural life as soon as possible, and thus become self-sufficient and contribute to the benefit of the host society. Another important consideration is that the government and the local authorities play the leading role in the integration of beneficiaries of international protection, while the non-governmental sector has supporting and auxiliary functions.
The Manifesto proposes restoring the National Programme for Refugees’ Integration which was operational in 2005–2013 when the Programme was implemented by State Agency for Refugees with funding from the state budget and was defined as a good European practice. Moreover, the Manifesto proposes that this Programme be upgraded with the now effective legal framework – the Ordinance on the terms and procedures to conclude, implement and terminate integration agreements with beneficiaries of asylum or international protection – which provides for the active participation of municipalities and focuses on integration at the local level. Applying the best aspects of the two approaches ensures that while being in the procedure or soon after receiving a status the persons will start the adaptation process, and only those of them who are motivated will have the opportunity to participate in the integration programme at the local level.
In view of the above, the following is proposed:
1) Setting up a new institutional structure, which includes:
- The designation of a Deputy Prime Minister who is responsible for the overall planning and implementation of the integration policy for refugees in Bulgaria;
- Broadening the scope of competences of the State Agency for Refugees by establishing an Adaptation and Integration Directorate with three departments – Adaptation and Initial Integration; National Integration Programme; and Information and Analysis;
- The active involvement of municipalities/districts which are willing to host refugees for integration on their territory, and receive, for that purpose, targeted funding and support.
2) Developing a comprehensive integration process at two stages:
- Adaptation and initial integration – the target group are persons who seek asylum or received international protection within the last one year. It comprises a training and a practical module: Bulgarian language training; civic orientation training; providing refugees with an overall idea about their future and development opportunities in Bulgaria; involvement of minor and underage persons in education; access to the labour market for adults; building relations with the host community via contacts with institutions, volunteers, companies, etc.;
- National Integration Programme – the target group are individuals who have been granted international protection and have been through the first stage. A one-year integration agreement is concluded between a refugee and a municipality/district; the agreement provides for the provision of flexible support such as housing, civil registration and issuing of IDs, Bulgarian language training, education, healthcare, employment, social assistance and social services, monthly integration allowance, information provision and empowerment.
In view of the above, the responsible Deputy Prime Minister has to ensure sustainable funding from the state budget, EU funds or other sources.
This initiative Manifesto on Refugee Integration in Bulgaria was conducted by Multi Kulti Collective, Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants in partnership with UNHCR Bulgaria, in cooperation with a number of stakeholders, including experts from institutions, international organizations, the non-governmental sector, the academia, businesses, representatives of the refugee communities in Bulgaria, etc. They participated in the document development through a series of national roundtables, expert meetings and online consultations.
The Manifesto on Refugee Integration in Bulgaria was drafted as part of the National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM) project co-financed by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union.