Regional networking workshop on R&R with CSO

Regional networking workshop on R&R with CSO

Horizon Civitas organized a regional networking workshop on reintegration and re-socialization, with the participation of civil society organizations from the region. This activity aimed to create a coordinated network of cooperation between civil society organizations to contribute to the process of reintegration and re-socialization, respectively at local and regional level. Participants in this workshop were representatives of civil society organizations from the region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Northern Macedonia and Montenegro), operating in various fields such as: education, psychological support, child protection, empowerment of women, youth engagement, entrepreneurship and advocacy. Thus, the one-day workshop contained a series of activities that enabled a better understanding of the efforts made so far in these efforts, as well as the design of joint activities in various areas of intervention related to reintegration.

The opening speeches were given by Mr. Samet Shabani on behalf of Horizon Civitas, Mr. Alain Ancion in the capacity of regional security coordinator, based at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and his counterpart Mr. Filip De Ceunink from the Delegation of the European Union. In their opening remarks, Mr. Alain and Mr. Filip stressed the importance of focusing on the reintegration and re-socialization of returnees from the war zones in Syria and Iraq, especially in terms of security in the region and beyond. At the same time, they reaffirmed the commitment of the international community to support North Macedonia in the field of reintegration as well.

Following the opening speeches, Mr. Shabani presented the project “BRIDGE” (Building reintegration and initiating dialogue for greater engagement) as a civil society initiative to advocate in the process of reintegration and re-socialization. He articulated the activities undertaken to contribute to the efforts of public institutions to communicate and launch reintegration programs for returned families.

Another goal of this event was to present good practices from European countries in the field of reintegration. Thus, Miss Edith Lommerse, as a strategic advisor to the Dutch National Police, articulated the reintegration models undertaken by the relevant institutions in the country. She stressed the importance of risk assessment in this process, and then in ensuring better living needs by prioritizing case-by-case management. “Providing engagement for the returnee in the post- prison release period is vital,” said Miss Lommerse, pointing out the importance of vocational trainings and start-up programs in enhancing the employability as a reintegration measure.

Mr. Natasha Vidova from the International Organization for Migration – IOM (Northern Macedonia) presented the organization’s efforts in the field of combating violent extremism in general and reintegration and re-socialization in particular where they are currently implementing two projects:

– Support to governments in the Western Balkans to prevent and address challenges related to violent extremism and returnees from conflict regions, and

– Strengthen the institutional capacity of the Western Balkan countries to address the challenges related to the reintegration and rehabilitation of returnees from conflict zones and their families.

Another presentation of high importance was the one of Mrs Elena Grozdanova as a member of the Inter-agencz Working Group for Reintegration, Resocialization and Rehabilitation of the NCCVECT. She presented the context of the National Plan for Reintegration, Resocialization, and Rehabilitation for returnees from foreign wars and their families, and in particular the basic principles, stages of the action plan, infrastructure, international standards and best practices. It focused on the role of implementing effective measures for reintegration and re-socialization in the field of social policies. At the same time, Ms. Grozdanova said that the commitment of civil society to contribute to the work of professionals is vital for successful reintegration.

In addition to the presentations, representatives from civil society organizations presented their efforts to date on the reintegration and re-socialization of returning fighters, as well as what contribution they can further provide to this process. After that, the participants were deployed into three small thematic work groups (psychological support, youth engagement, community activism) where at the end each elaborated a series of proposals for coordinated activities.

Due to unprecedented circumstances caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic, the workshop was conducted through the online platform ZOOM, on January 21, 2021. This workshop was conducted in collaboration with the NEXUS Civil Concept that provided technical and logistical support.

This activity was implemented in scope of BRIDGE 2.0 Project, financially supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in North Macedonia.