INTEGRA project partners had their third meeting in Sofia on February 13-15, 2019. The meeting was attended by all six project partners from five countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy and Slovakia - and their stakeholders. The topic of the meeting was Advocacy and information campaign for better integration of third country nationals. Partners shared the results of their City Integration Audit and Agendas, the goals of their local efforts and their achievements so far. Interesting testimonies were shared:
“A Ukrainian student expressed his astonishment that someone would ask him how to improve services for TCN and would take his opinion seriously – he had never experienced anything similar at home.”
“We learned a lot from this project – we analyzed the situation, studied what the other partners and cities are doing, and decided that more could be done in our city, too.”
“Lack of conflict does not necessarily mean integration, it may signal lack of communication.”
Stakeholders that participated in the meeting – from city officials to NGO experts, from representatives of international bodies to TCN organizations and state authorities - also shared their own experience, current activities and aspirations. As part of the partner meeting we visited the St. Ana Integration Center, run by Caritas-Sofia.
The Mayor of Rubano Mrs. Sabrina Doni met with the Deputy-Mayor of Sofia Mr. Todor Chobanov in the framework of the project meeting. Both leaders exchanged experiences and ideas for more effective integration of foreign-born citizens and reconfirmed the role of city-to-city cooperation to achieve that.
The most important thing is for migrants to understand they are community, said Mrs. Doni to the reporter of 24novini.bg: https://24novini.bg/%D0%BD%D0%BF%D0%BE-%D1%85%D1%8A%D0%B1/item/15812-v-italiya-imat-nuzhda-ot-migranti-za-industriyata-i-fermite
Project partners planned their further activities and campaign.
Deputy Mayor of Sofia Municipality, Assoc. Prof. Todor Chobanov, met with the Mayor of Rubano, Italy, Mrs. Sabrina Doni, and Deputy Mayor of Rubano, Mrs. Stefania Donega. The heads of the two municipalities exchanged experience on how they work for the full integration of third-country nationals. Although different in size and geography, Sofia and Rubano face similar challenges in facilitating the access to the labour market, education and housing of legally residing non-EU citizens.
The meeting took place within the framework of the INTEGRA project, funded by the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.