Regional workshop on the participation rights of refugees

Participants of the workshop
Participants of the workshop
Bosnia and Herzegovina

The workshop “The rights of refugees – access to economic and social rights” organised by the IRZ in conjunction with the Bosnian-Herzegovinian NGO “Vaša Prava” took place on 6 and 7 July 2022.

As well as staff from Vaša Prava, which operates a nationwide legal aid network, colleagues from non-governmental organisations from Serbia and North Macedonia also took part in the workshop. In addition, staff from the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the UNHCR location Sarajevo also took part.

The workshop showed many parallels between legal regulations and their practical implementation in the participating countries. The legal provisions in which the rights of refugees are precisely defined are largely regarded as positive. In practice, there are considerable transposition deficits caused by a lack of implementing provisions, contradictions with other statutory regulations, but also lack of awareness by the responsible authorities and a lack of capacity.

Under the heading “Integration at the half-way point?” participants discussed to what extent integration in transit countries is even feasible and desired by the parties concerned. The COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have exacerbated the problems of supporting refugees and the constant exchange of NGOs with public authorities also seemed to come to a halt.

As a result of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, there are currently also Ukrainian refugees in the region, who mainly entered legally with valid tourist visas. At the moment there is a lack of information regarding their treatment as refugees.

The workshop was the first in-person IRZ event in the region since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants benefitted from the advantages of the face-to-face format and were able to share an intensive exchange of experiences and opinions, which they continued even outside the official programme. The event gave colleagues from the three participatory countries the opportunity to hold discussions again in person after a hiatus of more than two years. The event therefore also contributed to local networking.