Conference on Strengthening Migration Management, Return and Asylum Procedures in the Western Balkans is held in Sarajevo

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In the period 15 - 16 May 2024, Hilfswerk International (HWI) together with the project partner Joint Coordination Platform (JCP), was the host of  Conference on Strengthening Migration Management, Return and Asylum Produces in the Western Balkans which gathered 39 participants who had the opportunity talk about relevant topics in the field of return and asylum as well as asylum legislation and aligment with the EU acquis. This two-day conference which is held in Hotel Hills Sarajevo, brought together representatives of relevant institutions and bodies from the Western Balkan region including Bosnia and Hercegovina representatives, Montenegro as well as North Macedonia representatives, that are in charge of the issue of migration, asylum and return processes, as well as other international organizations from the Western Balkans and EU.

On this occasion, representatives of the Ministry of Security of BiH - (Asylum and other sectors), representatives of the Republic Secretariat for Displaced Persons and Migration, Ministry of the Interior (ME) as well as representatives of the Administration for the Police (MNE) and the Department for Readmission (BiH) took their active part.

The participants of the conference were also representatives and authorities of international organizations; structures and bodies dealing with the issues of migration, return and asylum namely: FRONTEX, Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina, European Union Agency for Asylum, Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum (BFA) Austria, representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina at Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI), GIZ representative which acts on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as IOM representatives, CIVIPOL and representatives of  EU Special Representative (EUSR) in BiH. 

After the introductory part in which the authorities of the project implementation organizations - Lejla Hadžimešić (HWI, Regional Director for Western Balkans) and Berndt Koerner (Head of JCP), gave a welcome and introductory speech, the participants had the opportunity to hear more about the project "Strengthening Migration Management, Asylum and Return processes in the Western Balkans", within which the conference is held, as well as future project activities through the plans of regional cooperation.

Furthermore, the topics of this conference included the areas of ​​returns as an element of migration management, where also national strategies were discussed through the aspects of their implementation and cooperation. Besides, the conference provided an opportunity to exchange current information and experiences regarding return related challenges in the Western Balkans , through the presentations of all representatives who gave actual updates and personal review according to their country of origin.

When we talk obout examples and challenges, another important topic represented on the second day of the conference concerns asylum legislation and alignment with the EU acquis, with reference to the progress and challenges in the Western Balkans. 

Both days were also followed by thematic discussions that covered the following topics of the previously mentioned asylum legislation and alignment with the EU acquis, as well as the topics of Pre-return, Escort and Escort leaders and monitoring processes.

This conference also offered an opportunity to discuss on common strategy and future steps within agreement on upcoming events, which ended by defining two-days closing remarks.

Project "Strengthening Migration Management, Asylum and Return processes in the Western Balkans" is co-financed by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Austrian Federal Ministy of the Interior. More about the project: