Working Forum Social adaptation, inclusion and integration of beneficieries of international protection in Bulgaria

Refugee integration is more than an act of compassion; it is a powerful catalyst for positive change in a rapidly globalizing world. Successful integration of refugees depends on comprehensive, well-coordinated policies and partnerships. Governments, non-governmental organizations and international bodies must cooperate to create an enabling environment for the inclusion and integration of refugees. Specialized programs aimed at language acquisition, vocational training, health care are essential components of effective integration. In addition, public-private partnerships can facilitate job placement, mentoring and skills development, ensuring that refugees are prepared to make meaningful and sustainable contributions.

Because of the opportunities for the integration process to be used as a tool for development at the local and national level, the Bulgarian Council for Refugees and Migrants and the State Agency for Refugees with the Council of Ministers organized in August a working forum on social adaptation, inclusion and integration of persons granted international protection in Bulgaria.

The forum brought together representatives of ministries and agencies, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations to discuss the issues related to the current situation with the integration of refugees, the position of the institutions, as well as the experience of the non-governmental sector and municipalities.

The Chairperson of the State Agency for Refugees under the Council of Ministers – Mariana Tosheva presented the role of the Agency for the initial adaptation of the persons granted international protection in Bulgaria. Mariana Tosheca shared concrete examples of the work in preparing integration profiles of asylum seekers, which contain a set of concrete integration measures with a focus on education and employment. In this context, the various approaches to assessing vulnerability and overcoming it in order to successfully integrate into public life in our country were also outlined.

Representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs presented the possibilities for financing integration projects under the national program of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund in the current program period from 2021 to 2027. The experience of the local authorities on the part of the Ruse Municipality in developing a social service to support refugee children, the experience of the Vitosha and Oborishte Regions both for the integration of resettled and relocated refugees, and for the development and implementation of refugee integration projects and support for refugee children. The position of the institutions was provided by representatives of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Healt, the Employment Agency, and the Agency for Social Assistance.

The long-term experience of the non-governmental sector in the field of integration measures and activities was presented by representatives of the Bulgarian Red Cross and Caritas Sofia, emphasizing that non-governmental organizations are a reliable and proven partner of institutions and local authorities in the long-term integration process of the refugees.

The event is organized as part of the project “Advocacy for the Integration of Refugees in Bulgaria”, funded by UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency, and is another effort by the Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants to strengthen capacity and develop new partnerships between all interested parties in the process of integration of persons granted international protection.