Sarajevo Migration Dialogue brought together a number of regional and European officials

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The conference "Sarajevo Migration Dialogue", held in the period from 17 to 19 November 2021, organized by Hilfswerk International and the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is the first meeting of key regional actors in the field of migration within the project "Reduction of irregular migration in The EU by strengthening the capacity of migration-related structures in the Western Balkans.”

The conference was organized with the aim of strengthening cooperation and partnership in the region, as well as of exchanging information and experiences that are crucial for effective migration management. The conference "Sarajevo Migration Dialogue" gathered over 150 participants, current ministers of the region, representatives of the European Union, as well as international organizations involved in migration processes.

Through 3 thematic panels, the importance of the concepts of migration management, border control, as well as future trends and challenges that lie ahead were presented. Speaking about the trends of the migrant crisis today, the participants had the opportunity to exchange specific information and practices regarding the current situation at border crossings and the non-existence of a transparent and networked information exchange system between countries affected by the migrant crisis in the region, for easier management of the identification process, but also issues of efficiency and practice of implementation of signed agreements that should facilitate the procedures for returning migrants to their home countries.

When it comes to the numbers of illegal crossings and stays in the countries of the Western Balkans, which are mostly transit countries for migrants, in just Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2018 until today, more than 84.000 migrants entered illegally, which is pointed out by the Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Mr. Selmo Cikotic in his statement. The fact that out of the total number of migrants residing in BiH only 3% of them applied for asylum also speaks of the transit role of the countries of the Western Balkans.

Despite these challenges, Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with a significant number of other countries, is seeing visible improvements in the field of more efficient control of migrant movements and monitoring of migrant routes with improved prevention of smuggling, followed by better care for migrants. On November 19th, the event was accompanied by the parallel opening of the temporary reception center Lipa on the site of the city of Bihać.

Representatives of the participating countries and their delegations and ministries, characterized migrant issues as a common challenge that requires efficient, transparent, and coordinated cooperation at this and any other level, where countries of the region and beyond must work effectively and jointly.

The Managing director of Hilfswerk International, Stefan Fritz, closed the conference by expressing satisfaction with the successful implementation and the dialogue that is crucial in this process, emphasizing that Hilfswerk International will continue to provide capacity building on a needs-based approach, tailored to stakeholders and partners. He invited for the continuation of common work and a common approach in order to improve cooperation and address this topic jointly. 

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”.