Support for Asylum Seekers in Loznica and Banja Koviljača
In the period 27-29 May, 2015 Group 484 organized activities supporting asylum seekers accommodated in the center in Banja Koviljaca and Loznica, with the aim to enlighten the issues that asylum seekers and migrants are dealing with on their road.
During two days Ivana Bogicevic Leko (theatre director), Snezana Skoko (artist), Djordje Balmazović (multimedia artist, art group “Škart”) and Luka Knezevic-Strika (photographer / artist, Belgrade Raw Collective) provided social support to asylum seekers through a series of art workshops: painting workshop for the youngest – children asylum seekers; textile workshops for women asylum seekers, during which they all together embroidered their thoughts, desires and hopes on pillowcases, T-shirts and shopping bags. These workshops do not only emphasise the products (on the contrary), but the process itself – socialising, conversation, learning about each other, providing support. Based on the discussions about the reasons for and the ways of migration, the so-called roadmaps of asylum seekers were illustrated, which are still used in the work with young people from the community.
Along with these activities, two and a half hours long workshop “Blank Maps” was organised for Loznica high school students in the Youth Centre within Loznica High School, on Wednesday (27 May), in collaboration with the high school and its philosophy teacher, Mirko Markovic. Third graders from Loznica High School were told about the legal and social challenges faced by migrants. In an unusual way, by indirectly listening to individual intimate stories and experiences of migrants themselves, in their thoughts participants went through uncertain and perilous journey that migrants pass from their country to a safe haven in Serbia, or other European destinations.
This workshop was also a preparation for the film by Želimir Žilnik “Destination Serbistan” presented a day later at the Youth Centre within the Film Festival “Free Zone” Tour. The award-winning documentary film by Želimir Žilnik “Destination Serbistan” is a documentary drama about the life of asylum seekers and migrants in Serbia and the need to respect the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. At the 62 Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival the film was awarded the best feature documentary in the national selection. The films with the migration theme are jointly organised by Group 484 and the “Free Zone” Film Festival in Loznica, Mladenovac, Sjenica, Vranje and Subotica.
After the screening there was a discussion organised by Group 484 and the Free Zone Festival from Belgrade. The aim of the discussion was to talk about the situation of asylum seekers and the attitude of the local population towards this group. Key speakers were Dragica Lakanović from Lighthouse Association from Loznica, Ivan Milenkovic, philosopher, Vladimir Petronijevic, Group 484 Executive Director. They talked about mixed migration flows, a broader European context (especially about the so-called “Dublin II” Regulation), the need to support asylum seekers and primarily their better reception in communities in Serbia, as well as the need to build a functioning asylum system that would respect and protect the rights of asylum seekers and migrants.
Project: Our New Neighbours – improvement of migration policy in Serbia and the Western Balkans
PROACTION – Protection against Discrimination of Asylum Seekers and Unaccompanied Child Migrants
Objective: building trust and sensitisation of local communities for understanding the situation of asylum seekers and migrants; Strengthen the support of local NGOs to asylum seekers and unaccompanied child migrants by building their capacity for the prevention and protection from discrimination and violation of human rights and through networking with national and local institutions.
Implementers: Group 484 (educational program “We and the Others” and the Centre for Migration)
Support: Open Society Foundation Serbia, EU Delegation to Serbia, Office for Cooperation with Civil Society, Government of RS