Regional conference on readmission and capacity building of migration-related structures in the Western Balkans

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Effective return, readmission and reintegration policies, in full respect of international law and standards, are central aspects of good migration management, and the main topic of discussion at the Regional Conference on Readmission, taking place from 27th until 29th October, 2021, in Ohrid, North Macedonia.

The Conference is the second in a series of awareness raising events, co-organised by the Migration, Asylum and Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI),  Hilfswerk International and the partner organization Association for Help and Development HAJDE from Bosnia and Herzegovina, under the auspices of the project “Reducing irregular migration to the EU by strengthening the capacities of migration-related structures in the Western Balkans”.

The conference was opened with introductory addresses by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of North Macedonia, Ms. Magdalena Nestorovska, the Ambassador of the Republic of Austria in Skopje, His Excellency Dr. Georg Woutsas, the Regional Director for Balkans of Hilfswerk International, Ms. Suzana Jasarevic and the director of the MARRI Regional Center, Mr. Sasko Kocev.

The need for joint cooperation in the field of returns and readmission is recognized by all relevant foreign partners, which, of course, is to be welcomed. Further support is needed to initiate negotiations and sign readmission agreements with countries of origin, but also adequate support in their implementation in the pre-return phase and in the implementation of the returns themselves,” the Secretary of State Ms. Nestorovska said in her address.

The aim of this Conference is to gather the relevant readmission stakeholders and raise the awareness about the issues, challenges and new modus operandi that are present in the region, to exchange experience and good practices, particularly in providing legal base (readmission agreements or arrangements) and its practical implementation, to increase the dialog and cooperation with the relevant authorities from the countries of origin, especially from Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa countries.

In her introductory address, the Regional Director for Balkans of Hilfswerk International, Ms. Suzana Jasarevic stated that Readmission and return are at this moment probably two key issues that raise interest but also the concern of all participating countries and security representatives. It is also a challenging process that assumes strong regional cooperation that is yet to be built,“ adding that „We particularly appreciate the support of the  Joint Coordination Platform (JCP) and BMI in following and supporting the development of regional dialogue and regional capacities to initiate the development of more robust return and readmission policies.

The director of the MARRI Regional Center, Mr. Sasko Kocev, added that given that some 500,000 irregular migrants in Europe have been ordered to return to their home countries, the issue of readmission is more urgent than ever.

The Conference is organized as a three-day event with hybrid format, with eight thematic sessions, whereby different readmission stakeholders will take active participation.

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”.