Hilfswerk International aims to support the existing structures - Suzana Jasarevic (HWI Regional Director Balkans) for MARRI Bulletin spoke about the effective cooperation between Hilfswerk International and MARRI

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MARRI expertise in migration management combines well with HWI needs-based approach in migration-management, and it already showed outstanding results in three events.

Suzana Jasarevic has 25+ years of progressive working experience and leadership in Hilfswerk International. In that period, she developed, organised and successfully finalised more than 120 projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, with a project volume of more than EUR 80 Mio in total. A significant number of those projects enabled the return and reintegration of the refugees and displaced persons and social housing and inclusion models for the vulnerable population. Jasarevic successfully combines her technical academic background with a deep understanding of the political and social context of the Western Balkans to respond to the identified of the WB institutions and ensure the design and development of tailor-made capacity-building programmes to support them fully resume their mandates and improve performance.

Hilfswerk International (HWI) is among Austria’s leading organisations for development cooperation and humanitarian aid worldwide. What is HWI’s scope of work in the Western Balkans region?
HWI first established an international office was in BiH in 1996. Our work in the WB region is currently focused on readmission and return, capacity building of migration-management structures to reduce irregular migration, development cooperation, social protection, social inclusion of vulnerable populations through housing and socio-economic measures (Roma in Serbia), provision of training in the field of care service provision, support to elderly in reducing COVID 19 consequences. Activities are primarily implemented in BiH, Serbia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia, with Kosovo* and Albania’s occasional inclusion.

HWI’s main mandate is to provide direct humanitarian aid, but its work also expands on a policy level. Can you please tell us more about it?
HWI will always provide humanitarian aid to the population in need after natural disasters, wars, conflicts or forced movements worldwide regions of HWI presence. Additionally, with our strong presence in the region and continuous work, we earned strong recognition and references and always closely coordinated with authorities, developing their capacities and transferring knowledge and know-how. Very often, HWI initiated changes (legal and operational), worked with relevant stakeholders. We always provide need-based support and listen carefully to the exact needs of any institution/organisation included in the project. We are looking for inner strengths and experiences to bring them up and improve.

In your role as Hilfswerk International - Regional Director Balkans, you have had a closer look at migration management mechanisms in the region. How do you evaluate them?
Each country in the region has developed its own mechanism of migration management and acts accordingly. However, mutual coordination is weak and inadequate. More networking is needed, and above all, more interaction among the migration relevant structures in the region based on sharing information and methodologies and acting cooperatively, aside from policies. The Mediterranean route will most likely remain active – the Western Balkans institutions have to resume their role and capacity. The project enables conditions for exchange and getting to know each other better, thus creating an environment for crosscountries migration management.

In the framework of “Reducing irregular migration to the EU by strengthening the capacity of migration-related structures in the Western Balkans,” you focus on supporting the Western Balkans administrations in building their capacities. Why did you decide that MARRI is the most appropriate partner for the implementation of this project?
As the regional initiative with a unique regional structure, MARRI consists of six Participants: Albania, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo*, with a focus on regional cooperation in the area of migration. HWI aims to support the existing structures wherever possible and identifies synergies in the process – that is what happened when we approached MARRI RC. We were very satisfied that we could identify common goals and recognise the same approach cherished by both organisations since the first meeting. This sense of genuine partnership and well-understood different organisations’ roles to reach the same goals were the recipes for success.

What are your expectations?
We expect intensified cooperation, networking, exchange and improvement of migration management in WB.

So far, Hilfswerk International and MARRI have organised three events. What are your impressions?
I am very satisfied with the highly wellestablished cooperation, understanding and good work. MARRI expertise in migration management needs combines well with HWI needs-based approach in migrationmanagement structures capacity building already showed outstanding results in three events. A bunch of professionals from both sides, with a clear picture of the continuation of cooperation.

How do you see the future cooperation with MARRI?
Having in mind multiple benefits for both organisations, but primarily concerning the benefit for the MARRI Participants, I think that the continuation of cooperation is a natural continuation of what has been done so far.

What, in your view, does 2022 have in store for us? What would be the greatest challenge in the context of migration management?
It is different to give some punctuate predictions, but it is possible to expect the increase of the number of irregular migrations and taking Balkan/BIH route again. The greatest challenge might be better registration and follow up of migrants, with increased potential for readmission and return to their countries of origin.

What message do you have for policymakers in addressing these issues?
We would be happy to contribute to tangible
improvement in cooperation, networking and exchange of relevant information among WB countries to reduce irregular migrations to the EU and establish functional mechanisms of good migration management in the Western Balkans.

In the end, who is Susana Jasarevic outside the office?
Mother, passionate gardener, traveller, good friend.

The project "Reducing Irregular Migration in the EU by Strengthening the Capacity of Migration-Related Structures in the Western Balkans" is co-financed by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Federal Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Austria and implemented by Hilfswerk International in cooperation with the Association for Help and Development "HAJDE”.

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* This designation is without prejudice to positions
on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999
and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of
independence

* The interview is an integral part of MARRI Bulletin* ;  https://marri-rc.org.mk/?s=bulletin