The first training module of the Refugee Advocacy and Inclusion Board took place on March 18 and 19 in Sofia. The Board which was formed at the end of last year includes refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Syria and Kuwait. Its fifteen members will undergo training in three modules, which has been created and organized by the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza”. After the training, five meetings will be organized with representatives of various Bulgarian institutions. The goal is for the Board to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills, for its members to work together as well as jointly with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to participate in public processes in our country, to provide assistance to refugees in Bulgaria and to be the contact with this a group of people for institutions and NGOs.
The first training module began with a presentation of the idea for the creation and activity of the Board, for its planned joint work with UNHCR. Maria Shisheva presented UNHCR and spoke about the representation of the Commissioner in Bulgaria. The legal framework and practices regarding refugees in Bulgaria were introduced to the trainees by Rositsa Atanasova, Advocacy and Communications expert at the Foundation for Access to Rights. The educational expert Mariyana Georgieva spoke to the members of the Board about the educational system in Bulgaria and outlined the difficulties for the inclusion of refugee children in it. The group was involved in the art of negotiation by Albena Komitova – mediator and chair of the Center for Dispute Resolution, and in successful conflict resolution strategies – by the trainers Vesi Deyanova and Hermina Emiryan. In this first module, the members of the Refugee Advocacy and Inclusion Board had a special meeting with representatives of the Refugee and Migrant Service of the Bulgarian Red Cross, the Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants, “It’s Up to Us” and “CVS – Bulgaria”. The goal was for them to meet personally with representatives of organizations that help and support refugees in Bulgaria and to find out about their work and future activities. The lecture part and the discussions during the two days of the first module were complemented by group work where case studies were solved.
The training of the Refugee Advocacy and Inclusion Board is part of the “Partnership for Sustainable Refugee Inclusion” project, which is implemented by the Center for Sustainable Communities Development and the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza” with the financial support provided by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria within the EEA Financial Mechanism.