The conference, organized by Sofia Development Association in the framework of the project Coalition of Positive Messengers to Counter Online Hate Speech, co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union, took place in Sofia on June 21 and 22, 2018. It gathered together around one hundred participants and speakers with 10 countries: Bulgaria, Great Britain, Greece, Georgia, Italy, Romania, Rwanda, Croatia and Czech Republic, among whom the Vice President of Bulgaria Mrs. Iliyana Yotova, Sofia Deputy Mayor Dr. Todor Chobanov, the Deputy Ministers Mrs. Monika Panayotova and Mrs. Denitsa Sacheva.
The conference included diverse formats: panel discussions; workshops on storytelling, on social media campaigns and providing support to hate speech victims; pitching available resources for combating online hate speech; photo exhibition and interactive games.
The conference concluded that since online hate speech is a global phenomenon, the societal response should be equally global and united. “In the refugee and migration crisis aggression, hatred and denial flourished,” said Iliyana Yotova and pointed out that the most important battle we are facing is the battle for the standpoint of youngsters.
According to Malina Edreva, Sofia Municipal Council the challenge for public authorities is to establish a favourable environment: “We consistently convey a policy of fostering tolerance and mutual respect in our city. However, parallel to the physical city, there is a digital city that integrates information and creates public spaces. It is therefore critical to improve our support to NGOs working in that area, to promote good examples and make targeted efforts to make technologies that benefit us all.”
More on the conference and the policy recommendations it produced is available at: www.positivemessengers.net
On Thuesday, July 3th, Centre for peace – Osijek hosted the first focus group as a part of the Integra project.
The focus group meeting was attended by 10 representative of institutions: Municipality Osijek, Osijek-Baranja County, Croatian Employment Service (Regional centre Osijek), Community Service Centre Klasje – Home for Children and Youth .
At the beginning of the meeting, the participants were introduced to the Integra project, as well as the main topics of the focus group: city vision and services, urban environment, civic participation and social inclusion of TCN and migrant communities and attitudes towards TCN and migrants. The participants took parts at the focus group proactively, sharing information, opinions and own personal experiences. At the end of focus group meeting, the participants were invited to participate in further project activities due to take place this year.
The second focus group was held in Osijek on 5th July as a part of the Integra project.
Nine representatives of civil society organizations and TCNs and migrant communities attended the group and discussed, among other, the elements of integration and potential difficulties local community faces regarding the arrival and accommodation of a large numbers of TCNs in the city of Osijek. Besides that, participants shared their views on the current situation of the third-country nationals (TCN) in Osijek.
The participants agreed that there is a significant number of civil society organizations in the city area that provide various activities that involve migrants, helping them to connect better with the local community. In addition, the experience of working with refugees, acquired by NGOs during the 1990s, as well as the personal experience of refugees in this specific area, can be a major support to the integration process.
The INTEGRA project has created a toolkit to help cities: elected officials, municipal officers, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, migrant and TCN organizations and the community-at-large audit their city integration policies and practices, ask and answer some fundamental questions, identify bottlenecks and opportunities for TCN integration at local level and develop recommendations for further improvements.
For more information integra-eu.net
Centre for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights-Osijek organised on 30 April 2018 the first meeting of the Lokal Integration Group in Osijek.
SIG in Croatia is composed of representatives of five organisations/institutions: Centre for Peace Osijek, Volunteer Centre Osijek, Social Welfare, Retirement and Health Office – City of Osijek, Red Cross of Osijek-Baranja County and Youth Association Breza.
SIG members were introduced to the project (partners, time frame, objectives, main activities: city audit – desk research, focus groups, photovoice) as well as to each other. They learned about their roles within the project and possibilities of involvement.