Use of new psychoactive substances in WB/SEE – challenges, needs and opportunities

Our member organisation NGO Re Generation, with support of Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey and DPNSEE, invite you to participate in an online meeting “Use of new psychoactive substances in WB/SEE – challenges, needs and opportunities”.

This year, EHRA and the School of Law, Swansea University undertook the project “New Psychoactive Substance Use in Moldova, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, and Serbia” aiming to generate a more accurate picture of the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) and to assess harm reduction and law enforcement responses to the emerging issues related to use of NPS. In addition, EHRA funded project #DAZNAMŠTARADIM implemented by NGO Re Generation. Both of the actions generated a more detailed picture on what are the specific issues related to NPS in Serbia. We believe that these issues should be communicated and discussed among CSOs in the Western Balkan/SEE region that work with and represent affected communities.

The meeting will be held via Zoom on Friday 06 November 2020 starting at 11:00 CET. The meeting will last approximately two hours. You can access it by following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86130730814.

The invitation for the meeting with more details is available following this link>>>.

130 project proposals for the RYCO Call

The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) opened its Fourth Open Call intended to support and empower partnerships between civil society organizations, secondary schools and other actors in implementing activities in the areas of regional youth cooperation, mobility and exchange; and enabling environment for regional youth cooperation. The general objective of this call for proposals is to support the civil society in the Western Balkans to foster reconciliation and regional youth cooperation during COVID-19 pandemic by providing young people with opportunities that create space for dialogue, mutual learning and increased understanding across communities and RYCO Contracting Parties, as well as contribute to increasing capacities of CSOs in offering meaningful opportunities to young people in a changed reality caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Call was closed at midnight on 12 October 2020.

DPNSEE and its member organisations Aksion Plus (Albania), Margina (Bosnia Herzegovina), Juventas (Montenegro), Prevent and Re Generacija (Serbia) prepared the project proposal No Risk, no borders for young people. Our project will strive to contribute to the efforts of the reconciliation processes in the WB countries and stronger youth participation in CSOs by developing and supporting regional youth cooperation focused on youth at risk, as its desirable overall impact/change. The project is strongly focused on marginalized youth groups that are in our context defined as youth at risk consisting of young people who use drugs, sex workers, LGBTI population, youth in conflict with the law and others addressed as “youth with alternative lifestyles and identities”.

We are awaiting December 2020 and some good news from RYCO!

New ties, new opportunities

DPNSEE hosted the Donor conference for vulnerable populations in South East Europe on Thursday 6 August 2020. The aim of the Conference was to present the needs and potential projects of vulnerable populations in South East Europe and establish better communication, coordination and cooperation between service providers and public and private funding programmes.

The Conference included plenary presentations from the region and donors and work in two separate discussion rooms: Sustainability of services for vulnerable populations and Emerging needs of key populations.

47 representatives of civil society organisations, international organisations and donor community participated.

We hope to produce and distribute the report from the Conference in the next few days.

The presentations from the Conference are ready to download:

  • Monica Ciupagea, Expert – Drug use and HIV, HIV/AIDS section, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: HIV prevention, treatment and care among people who use drugs following this link>>>.
  • Jan Zlatan Kulenović, Director of Programs, Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO): Supporting Regional Youth Cooperation following this link>>>.
  • Sergii Filippovych, Project Director, Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine, coordinator of the regional #SOS_project supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Sustainability of services for key populations in EECA & SEE Region following this link>>>.
  • Ganna Dovbakh, Executive Director, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association: Key challenges of harm reduction in COVID era following this link>>>.
  • Yuri de Boer, Senior Program Manager, AFEW International: Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in EECA following this link>>>.

 

 

Donors conference for vulnerable populations

The coronavirus outbreak has a devastating effect on general population around the world as well as on people who use drugs and other connected vulnerable groups – homeless people, sex workers, LGBTI, women and young people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, people living with HIV and many others. These populations generally have limited or no access to health services, social benefits, clean water and food. Current situation multiplies these obstacles and add new ones.

Since February, the Drug Policy Network South East Europe and our member organisations were primarily engaged on providing support dedicated to the practical strengthening of the health, social, economic and mental resilience of the vulnerable groups of citizens. That included harm reduction and treatment services, fighting stigma and discrimination, providing legal and social advices and responding to a variety of additional needs these groups now have.

During the Conference on protection of vulnerable populations in South East Europe, held on 23 April 2020 and the Conference Social, mental and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic to the vulnerable populations in SEE: Do we know them and how to recognise and respond to them? held on 17 July 2020, DPNSEE learned that it is time to invite wider donors’ community, from national, regional to international level, to ensure universal, efficient, sustained funding and coordination respond to the needs of the vulnerable populations in the region.

The global pandemic requires a global response, and that response has to cover all.

The aim of the Conference is to present the needs and potential projects of vulnerable populations in South East Europe and establish better communication, coordination and cooperation between service providers and public and private funding programmes. The Conference will strengthen cooperative ties between potential project implementers from different sectors, increase knowledge of available public and private funding sources and improve strategic coordination between project ideas and funding structures.

South East Europe is usually side-lined in international support to key populations. We sincerely hope that vulnerable groups we serve deserve more attention and support.

The Conference will include plenary presentations from the region and donors, and work in two separate discussion rooms:

Group 1:        Sustainability of services for vulnerable populations

  • Quality assurance in service providing
  • Bridging funds for emergency situations (COVID and wider)
  • Children living in families with drug abuse history and young people who use drugs

Group 2:        Emerging needs of key populations

  • Respond to the economic consequences of coronavirus pandemic (empowering, rapid assessments and surveys, practical support on housing, food, clean water supply, etc.)
  • Involvement of key populations in designing and monitoring of the services for them

The Conference will be held on Thursday 6 August 2020 starting at 13:00 CET (14:00 EEST) via Zoom at the following link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89837901957. The conference would last for a maximum of 90 minutes.

Access to the Conference will be open. We would appreciate that you apply using following link https://forms.gle/bmDW7q25Ge15o2wW6 and indicate in which small group you would like to participate. If we don’t receive that information, we shall have to make the choice for you.

The Conference will be recorded in audio and visual format. The recording will be used for reporting only.

 

A successful campaign in new circumstances

Following a good result in coordination of the campaigns in 2017, 2018 and 2019, The International Drug Policy Consortium and The Drug Policy Network South East Europe agreed on continuing cooperation on organising the campaign in 2020.

The Support. Don’t Punish 2020 campaign was held in very difficult circumstances, but participating organisations managed to find a way to hold activities and continue contributing to achieving its goals.

The campaign in South East Europe had

For the first time, DPNSEE haven’t organised a Kick-off event to launch the campaign due to the situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, and as a specific way of promoting the campaign and achieving its goals, DPNSEE organised a regional campaign using social media to spread messages around. We prepared a set of up to 20 messages with combination of quotes from Kofi Annan’s speeches and appropriate photographs, ready for use in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The DPNSEE staff collected and published articles alongside with photos of the involved organisations in the Network during the campaign on Internet page www.dpnsee.org and social media FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

The report from the campaign is available following this link>>>.

 

A realistic insight into the consequences of COVID-19 to vulnerable populations

DPNSEE held the Conference “Social, mental and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic to the vulnerable populations in SEE: Do we know them and how to recognise and respond to them?” with support of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions and Correlation – Harm Reduction Network.

39 representatives of civil society organisations, national drug agencies, international organisations and agencies and donor community participated.

Initial results of the EMCDDA study on Impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs and drug services in the Western Balkans, as well as Correlation’s approach to collecting data from the point of view of civil society which can be of use in establishing our indicators and method of collecting them. Our colleagues gave us a very realistic view on the situation in their countries and efforts they made to provide services needed.

We hope to produce and distribute the report from the Conference in the next few days.

The presentations from the Conference are ready to download:

  • Kateřina Škařupová, PhD, Scientific analyst on health at the IPA project, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA): Initial results of the study on Impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs and drug services in the Western Balkans following this link>>>
  • Roberto Perez Gayo, Project Officer at the Correlation – Harm Reduction Network: Results of the harm reduction response to the epidemic in Europe following this link>>>
  • Marija Radović, Coordinator of the department of direct assistance to people who use/inject drugs, sex workers and prisoners at Juventas, Montenegro: The influence of the COVID19 on the social and economic status of persons who use/inject drugs following this link>>>

 

Conference “Social, mental and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic to the vulnerable populations in SEE”

Following the success of the Conference on protection of vulnerable populations in South East Europe, held on 23 April 2020, the Drug Policy Network South East Europe organises the Conference “Social, mental and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic to the vulnerable populations in SEE: Do we know them and how to recognise and respond to them?

During the coronavirus outbreak, DPNSEE and its member organisations were primarily engaged on providing support to key populations we usually serve, which is mainly related to harm reduction and treatment services, fighting stigma and discrimination, providing legal and social advices, etc. Besides these, we learned that they have a variety of additional needs and that the consequences of the situation will be wider.

One of the conclusions of the Conference we held was that it is necessary to observe social and economic impacts of coronavirus epidemic to key populations in South East Europe. That would help to better define the emerging needs of the populations and provide them with better services.

The aim of the Conference is to discuss the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic on key populations in South East Europe.

The Conference should contribute to defining the indicators for collecting data and producing regional Assessments of social, mental and economic impact of coronavirus epidemic to key populations in South East Europe. The indicators will be observed by the DPNSEE member organisations and published quarterly and annually.

The external inputs will be provided by

  • European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) on the initial results of the study on Impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs and drug services in the Western Balkans
  • Roberto Perez Gayo, Project Officer at the Correlation – Harm Reduction Network, who will present results of the harm reduction response to the epidemic in Europe.

In addition, we expect inputs from the experts, authorities and civil society organisations from the region.

The Conference will be held via Zoom at the following link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81356455423 on Thursday 16 July 2020 starting at 14:00 CET (15:00 EEST). The conference would last for a maximum of 90 minutes.

The Conference will be recorded in audio and visual format. The recording will be available at the DPNSEE website.

We sincerely hope that you shall join us, contribute to understand the situation in the region better and help define reliable indicators.

 

Support. Don’t Punish regional campaign

For the fourth year already, DPNSEE coordinates the Support. Don’t Punish global advocacy campaign calling for better drug policies that prioritise public health and human rights. The campaign aims to promote drug policy reform, and to change laws and policies which impede access to harm reduction interventions.

This year we organise a larger campaign, which will be part of our general efforts to ensure sustainability of services for people who use drugs in South East Europe – those that are under threat of being marginalised and side-lined as consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.

The DPNSEE Board decided to hold a regional campaign using social media to spread messages around. We prepared a set of up to 20 messages with combination of quotes from Kofi Annan‘s speeches and appropriate photographs, ready for use in Facebook, Tweeter and Instagram. They will be posted throughout June 2020, most frequently around 26 June, the Global Day of Action of the Support. Don’t Punish campaign and the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

We offered all our member organisations to share the messages through your networks. The messages will be translated in various languages and it will be simple to post and schedule their dissemination following dynamic we shall define. For the moment, 14 our organisations from 8 countries post and share the slides.

We warmly encourage all other organisations and individuals to share the messages and so contribute to the success of the campaign worldwide.

 

I think we did a good job

Talas – Serbia based media portal “about politics, economy and ideas” published an article about effects of the coronavirus on people who use drugs in Serbia. The article is based on information published by DPNSEE and interviews with Milutin Milošević, our Executive Director, and Irena Molnar, the Executive Director of our member organisation Re Generacija.

Milutin emphasized that the civil society organisations from the region have done a good job before and during the first period of the outbreak. The result is that we haven’t noticed any infection among users of our services.

Irena emphasized that people who are on treatment are in an additional risk because they have to travel, sometimes daily, to get the treatment or social care.

The article, in Serbia, is available here>>>

Useful and fruitful Conference held

DPNSEE held today the on-line Conference on protection of vulnerable populations in South East Europe, with support of the Service for Combatting Drug Abuse at the Croatian Institute for Public Health and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – UNODC Programme Office in Serbia.

More than 60 representatives of civil society organisations, national drug agencies, international organisations and agencies and donor community participated.

We heard a lot of good stories about work done in the region on supporting vulnerable populations and several interesting ideas for actions to ensure that harm reduction services are sustainable during and after the COVID’19 epidemic.


DPNSEE prepared background documents for the Conference which are available at the recent news on our website>>>.

Here are updated documents, with some fresh information from countries, and the Minutes from the Conference.

  • Overview of the situation with coronavirus COVID-19 in SEE with two annexes (available here>>> with both annexes or here>>> as a separate document):
  • Annex 1 – Information received from countries of South East Europe during conference calls (available here>>>)
  • Annex 2 – DPNSEE activities during the coronavirus outbreak (available here>>>)

Minutes from the Conference are available here>>>.

Presentation from Mr Miloš Stojanović, Regional Project Manager at UNODC, Head of Programme Office in Serbia is available here>>>.