SOFIA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION was founded as non-profit organization with the decision 348
of the Sofia Municipal Council to work for the sustainable development of the capital.

FINAL PROJECT CONFERENCE UNIONMIGRANTNET AND CITIES TOGETHER FOR INTEGRATION

After three years of good cooperation and exchanges among 18 partners including trade unions, local and regional authorities, civil society organisations, research institutes, the project UMN is coming to an end. The final event which took place on 13-14 December in Brussels, gathered representatives of the project partners, local and national authorities, trade unions, civil society organizations, EU-level institutions. The conference provided a venue for exchange on successful local migrants and refugees’ integration practices, mobilizing stakeholders working on migrants and refugees’ integration, facilitating the access of information and services to migrants, and planning joint actions and future cooperation.

Representatives of SDA and CITUB, the two Bulgarian partners in UMN, attended the conference and presented the results and outputs of the project in Bulgaria. The project was an opportunity for SDA to build a local coalition of employers and civil society organizations to support the integration of third-country nationals in the labor market. The legacy of this coalition is instrumental for all future initiatives of SDA and Sofia Municipality for the economic, social, and cultural integration of third-country nationals in the city.

UMN project co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.      

                          

        

   

  

EMERGE 3RD REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT MAINSTREAMING: THE ROLE OF LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT

Sofia Shares Integration Lessons with Local and Regional Authorities in Georgia

SDA was invited to present the experience of Sofia for TCN integration at the international EMERGE 3rd Regional Conference on Migration and Development Mainstreaming: The role of local self-government, which took place in hybrid format Tbilisi, Georgia, 8-9 November, 2022.

The conference panels focused on the unique role local-level governance authorities can play in fostering better migration and development outcomes. SDA presented the development of interventions on local level in Sofia that address the needs of third-country nationals across the integration cycle. We emphasized how including local governance authorities in programme design and implementation can support better integration outcomes, related to initial settlement needs or longer-term integration needs. The case study of the Bureau for Information and Services to TCNs in Sofia drew attention as a successful model of coordination and cooperation between local authorities, civil society, and international organizations engaged in migration and integration.

      

CONNECTION project: CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action, and UMN project are co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.       

   

  

FINAL NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE UMN PROJECT IN BULGARIA

The final public event of the UMN project in Sofia was the international conference organized by the partners CITUB and SDA on 27 September 2022. The conference gathered representatives of local and international organizations – public bodies, NGOs, employers – for a constructive and insightful dialogue on the challenges to integration of TCN in Sofia and in Europe. Welcome addresses were delivered by the president of CITUB, Mr Plamen Dimitrov, N. L. Narasimha RAO, UNHCR Representative in Bulgaria, and Ms. Malina Edreva, municipal councilor and chair of the Standing Committee for Culture, Education and Cultural Diversity at Sofia Municipal Council, Deputy Chair of the EU Committee of the Regions. International guests and project partners from Slovenia and Belgium also attended, sharing interesting ideas about TCN social and labor integration. Speakers emphasized the need to setting up mechanisms for assisting refugees and person with temporary protection (refugees from Ukraine), which guarantee not only the access to jobs and services, but ensure that TCNs enjoy their rights, are not discriminated against, and have the resources to build decent lives for themselves and their families.

While the conference put an end to the project activities in Sofia, the UMN consortium will gather for a final international conference in Brussels, on 13-14 December. Visit the project website and the special multilingual platform for access to services for TCNs at https://www.unionmigrantnet.eu/get-in-touch/ for other news and fresh ideas on integration.

UMN project co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.      

                    

        

   

  

CONCLUDING MEETING OF THE UMN LOCAL COALITION FOR LABOR INTEGRATION IN SOFIA

On September 8, 2022, SDA organized the final meeting of the local coalition for labor integration, created under the UMN project in 2020. After three years, the UMN project is coming to an end, and the coalition members in Sofia got together for a final review of activities, sharing of lessons learned and good practices, and planning for the future. Representatives of local NGOs and employers discussed the challenges and achievements over the three years, which included organizing an information and advocacy campaign during a coronavirus pandemic; carrying out trainings for local employers; the inauguration of annual awards for local employers working with and hiring migrants and refugees. Representatives of UNHCR, Bulgarian Red Cross, Sofia Municipality, Caritas Sofia, BCRM also spoke about the many changes and challenges that 2022 brought to societies in Europe and how that has affected the integration efforts at local level.

UMN is one of several projects in which SDA has been involved in on the topic of integration; this was an important opportunity to work with social partners and trade unions around Europe, learning from their rich experience and traditions in helping migrants find employment and build a new life for themselves and their families.

The final national conference of the UMN project in Sofia is scheduled for 27 September; we look forward to meeting you there!

 UMN project co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

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ЕMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING FOR THE OTHER

Did the war in Ukraine change the attitudes of Bulgarian society towards migrants and refugees? Do we know how to help the people who need protection for themselves and their families, no matter what country they are coming from? What does it take to realize that the differences between “us” and “them” are one more opportunity for improving the way we all live?

These questions framed the roundtable discussion held within the project “Da opoznaem drugia”, implemented by the Bulgarian Red Cross and the State Agency for Child Protection. The event, held on 5 August 2022, brought together representatives of civil society, universities, international organizations working for the integration of refugees in Bulgaria. Sofia Development Association also shared its experience and lessons learned from several initiatives on the topic. One is the need for providing regular, impartial information to the host society about the real situation of refuges and migrants in the country. Coalition-building and advocacy with fellow civil society organizations, but also collaboration with local and national public bodies are critical for changing the negative attitudes and misperceptions of integration. At the end of the day, acknowledging dignity and treating others with respect is the first step of building a prosperous society.  

      

CONNECTION project: CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action, and UMN project are co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.       

   

  

SDA HOSTS A DELEGATION FROM LIEGE FOR A MUTUAL LEARNING PROGRAM UNDER UMN – UnionMigrantNet and Cities Together for Intergation

As part of the Mutual Learning Program of the UMN project, the two Bulgarian partners - SDA and CITUB, hosted a delegation from the city of Liege. From June 13 through 16, 2022 representatives of the city administration in Liege and NGOs met with Bulgarian experts and organizations working for the integration of third-country nationals. The delegation visited the headquarters of CITUB, the municipal Bureau for Information and Services for Third Country Nationals, the Registration and Reception Center for Refugees in Ovcha Kupel, the Municipal Registration Center at Sofia Central Railway Station, Caritas Bulgaria. Discussions focused on the experience of Sofia and Bulgaria in providing integration services to refugees and migrants, the challenges and issues faced, good practices and lessons learned. The final meeting on June 16 was hosted by Sofia Municipality, during which the guests from Liege had an opportunity to ask questions about municipal policies and practices linked to migrant integration.

The UMN project is drawing to a close and the Bulgarian partners are now planning the final conference in September, during which we will share our experiences and ideas for improving the pathways to integration for all those forced to flee from their homeland, in search of a better life for themselves and their families.

 UMN project co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

      

      

   

  

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