Faculty of Political Sciences Launches a New Course - The Protection of Children Affected by Mixed Migration

03 November 2020
Faculty of Political Sciences Launches a New Course - The Protection of Children Affected by Mixed Migration
UNICEF Srbija/2020

Belgrade, 3 November 2020 – The Faculty of Political Sciences, in cooperation with UNICEF, and with the financial support of the United States Government has launched a new course today - The Protection of Children Affected by Mixed Migration. The course builds on global standards and knowledge developed during the response to the refugee and migrant crisis and is grounded in the experience of national actors. The aim is to support the further strengthening of the protection system in Serbia to rapidly respond to new vulnerabilities arising from the context of migration.

At the Faculty of Political Sciences, migrations, both voluntary and forced, are studied and researched, from different angles. However, due to the complexity of these problems, a number of issues still remain insufficiently addressed, and it is imperative to continuously build the knowledge and work on improving the response", said the dean of the Faculty of Political Sciences, Professor Dragan R. Simic, PhD.

He explained that the issue of forced migrations is highly relevant in contemporary world, but also that the response is often linked with different ethical, scientific and practical challenges. Dean Simic pointed out that children are one of the most vulnerable categories in general, and also in migration, and that the problems that asylum seekers face in Serbia are significant, and present a great threat to their safety and well-being. He emphasized that this especially refers to unaccompanied children, but that other groups of migrants can also be highly vulnerable and face similar problems.

"I believe that educating students to tackle the emerging social problems is one of the most important tasks of the Faculty of Political Sciences. I am convinced that the partnership with UNICEF and other actors - the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia and the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs will provide additional quality of this course," said Dean Simic. Simic concluded that he hopes that this cooperation will be an example of good practice and that it will continue to the mutual benefit and satisfaction of all involved, above all - children affected by migration.

Recent decades have seen a rise in migration – children are moving for a variety of reasons, voluntarily or involuntarily, within or between countries, with or without their parents or other primary caregivers, and their movement may be placing them at increased risk of economic or sexual exploitation, abuse, neglect and violence. Since 2015, Serbia has been a country of transit, with over 1 million people passing through the country. At the height of the crisis, 1 in 3 refugees and migrants was a child – many of them in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.

UNICEF has invested significant efforts into strengthening the capacities of service providers to ensure refugee and migrant children are protected and that their rights are respected. To support further strengthening of the protection system in Serbia in terms of responsiveness to new vulnerabilities arising from the context of migration, UNICEF and the Faculty of Political Sciences have partnered on the Co-Creation of Knowledge and Building of Expertise for the Protection of Children Affected by Migration and Forced Displacement” project. This new course is the result of that cooperation.

Uprooted children, and especially those who are travelling alone or who have been separated from their families, are more vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation. To minimize these risks, and to provide children who have experienced adversity with the support they need to heal and thrive, there is a need for well-trained professionals and frontline workers who fully understand the migration context. This course is a way to institutionalize efforts to strengthen national capacities for the protection of refugee and migrant children,” said Deyana Kostadinova, UNICEF Representative in Serbia.

The Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs has been on the ground to ensure that programmes and policies in response to this crisis put the rights and needs of all children first. “Within the social protection system, all necessary protection measures are taken in order to ensure adequate protection arrangements for every migrant / refugee person who has declared himself / herself a minor. No person who declared himself a minor was denied the right to security, safety, health care and psycho-social support," explained Sladjana Cabric, the Assistant Minister in The Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs. She added that the capacities for the accommodation of unaccompanied and separated children in Serbia have so far been ensured in three social protection institutions.

Ms Cabric added that the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, in cooperation with several governmental and non-governmental organizations operating in the Republic of Serbia, organized seminars for frontline workers working within the social protection system and in asylum/reception centers on how to identify and support refugee/migrant children.

“The Ministry has been actively participating in the management of the migrant crisis since 2015. In that sense, we coordinated the most important projects implemented with support of the EU and other donors, the most important of which are 'Improving the capacity to manage the migrant / refugee crisis in the Republic of Serbia; (MADAD 1) which was conducted in 2017/2018, as well as 'Continued support for increasing and improving the capacity to manage the migrant crisis in the RS; (MADAD 2)', which was conducted from January 2018 to December 2019," said Ms Cabric.

The Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia, by sharing expert inputs, experiences and good practices from the field, provided significant support in shaping the curriculum of the new course.

Assistant Commissioner, Ivan Gerginov, explained the need for coordination and cooperation in the protection of children affected by migration. “Coordination and cooperation of all institutions is extremely important so that the whole process of child protection can be carried out in the right way. This should be our priority issue," Mr. Gerginov emphasized. He explained that it is necessary to strengthen the cooperation that exists between the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs and the Commissariat, in order to ensure the adopted decisions and plans are implemented in practice as much as possible.

More information about the course

“Protection of children affected by mixed migration” is multidisciplinary course with the aim to enhance the capacities of students as well as practitioners working with children affected by mixed migration. The course will be piloted during the winter semester of 2020/2021 with the vision to be accredited and become a standing course within the academic offer of the Faculty, for future social workers, political science, gender and cultural studies students in the coming years. The course represents a unique learning and academic opportunity in the Western Balkan region and is linked to the regional academic project Migration, Integration and Governance Research Centre (MIGREC). Finally, this initiative further contextualises and disseminates UNICEF global expertise and knowledge on Children on the Move.

The course consists of 8 modules covering topics related to social protection, child protection (CP), gender-based violence (GBV), the international and regional framework around mixed migration. Upon successful completion of the course, participants will be familiar with the CP legal framework, inter-institutional coordination requirements and key global and European guiding documents and instruments; understand the active role of child agency, caregivers and communities to support and protect children on the move; and be able to identify and assess children’s specific vulnerabilities and put forward adequate response plans and individual care through the case management process.

 

For more information, please contact:

Professor Nevenka Zegarac, PhD, nelazegarac@gmail.com

 

Media contacts

Jadranka Milanovic
Communication Officer
UNICEF Serbia
Tel: + 381 11 3602 104
Tel: +381 63 336 283

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