Regional meeting “Children who use drugs”

The regional meeting on “Children Who Use Drugs“, organised on 28 April by the Healthy Options Project Skopje (HOPS), was dedicated to exchanging experiences and sharing good practices in the region related to the problems and challenges faced by countries and civil society organizations in working with children and young people who use drugs, such as the availability of health and social programs for young people and children who use drugs.

Presentations on the topic had Liljana Ignjatova, Ph.D., Professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Skopje, Department of Psychiatry, and Head of the Centre for Prevention and Treatment of Drug Addiction, the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Eranda Berisha from Centre for Social Work Pristina, Kosovo*, Skerdi Zahaj, consultant in “Initiative for Social Change” ARSIS from Albania, Marija Mijović social worker at the NGO Juventas from Montenegro and Denis Dedajić from NGO Margina from Bosnia Herzegovina.

From the presentations of all speakers, it can be concluded that the rate of children and young people using drugs and other psychoactive substances is increasing. Health and other relevant institutions do not have an adequate answer to this question. In all countries in the region there is a complete lack of appropriate treatment programs for children who use drugs.

Recommendations from the meeting include:

  • Use good practices from countries where there are programs to treat and care for children and young people who use drugs
  • Prepare and adopt appropriate programs for the treatment of children and young people who use drugs
  • Strengthen partnerships between CSOs and health and social institutions in policymaking and provision of services for children using drugs

The project “The Role of CSOs in the Western Balkans in Providing Social Services and Preventing Social Exclusion” is funded by SIDA – Swedish International Development Agency, through the Balkan Civil Society Development Network.

The project is implemented regionally in six Western Balkan countries, including ARSIS Youth Support Social Organization (Albania), Asocijacija Margina (Bosnia and Herzegovina), HOPS (Northern Macedonia), Qendra Labyrinth (Kosovo), Prevent (Serbia), NVO Juventas (Montenegro).

 

Open call for project participants

Partners of the project “No Risk, no borders for young people” invite young people aged 18 – 28 from the Western Balkans to send their application for participate in the project.

The project is coordinated by the Drug Policy Network South East Europe (DPNSEE) together with the project partners Aksion Plus (Albania), Margina  (Bosnia Herzegovina), Juventas (Montenegro), Prevent and Re Generation (Serbia) and supported by the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) within its 4th Open Call co-financed by the European Union.

More about the project is available following this link>>>.

Participants profile:

  • 25 activists, youth leader and youth workers, preferably members of civil society organisations
  • Aged 18 to 28
  • Young people from or those working with the youth from groups at increased risk
  • Interested in learning how to cooperate in multicultural settings
  • Able to communicate and write in English
  • Willing to work as multipliers of experience and results through visibility and dissemination activities, before, during the project actitivies, including the reporting phase, and after the project
  • A participants group with an appropriate geographic, gender, national and balance of members from or working with various groups of youth at risk

What we expect from the participants:

  • Complete pre-tasks and participate in the follow-up activities of the project
  • Attend all sessions and activities during the both Workshops
  • Agree and understand that the project partners are responsible and coordinators for this project and will not challenge or create any issues that will influence its flow
  • Bring along personal items as requested by the organisers of the activities (i.e. clothes, shoes, medicins in case of health issues, etc.)
  • Participate in promoting visibility of the project
  • Participate in the production of the deliverables of the project
  • Be active on dissemination of the results as a multiplier of new experiences, info and knowledge
  • Provide all necessary documents (invoices, visa expenses, travel reservations, ID copies, boarding passes, etc)

The structure of the project workshops is highly intensive and demanding, plus requires full attendance and participation. The workshops starts at 9:30 am and will end around 8:00 pm with regular breaks for refreshments, meals and personal needs. Therefore, youths who will attend as participants need to show responsibility commitment during their participation. The topic of the project is related to many indoor activities and less outdoor. Any extra hours for touring around besides the free time as they are mentioned in the timetable are not eligible.

If the protection measures in the countries where the activities are held prohibit gatherings of large groups, the Workshops 1 and 2 will be provided online.

Also, work with youth from groups at increased risk during the project may be challenging, but the project partners will provide support from experienced staff.

If interested, the Open Call is available following this link>>>. Please, share this information as wide as possible around the region.

The application forms is available at the web pages and social media of the project partners. Each project partner is eligible to select up to 5 participants in the project.

 

Call for the logo and visual identity of the “No risk, no borders for young people project”

Partners of the project “No Risk, no borders for young people” invite young people aged 15 – 30 from the Western Balkans to send their proposals for the visual identity of the project.

The project is coordinated by the Drug Policy Network South East Europe with the project partners Aksion Plus (Albania), Margina (Bosnia Herzegovina), Juventas (Montenegro), Prevent and Re Generation (Serbia), and it is supported by the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) within its 4th Open Call and co-financed by the European Union.

Proposal for the project visual identity should include:

  • Logo and colour scheme
  • Cover and profile photo for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (2 proposals for each social network)

Incomplete proposals and those which arrive after the deadline will be rejected.

The deadline for sending proposals is Wednesday 24 March at 17:00 CET.

You can find more about the Call following this link>>>.

No risk, no borders for young people

Photos: Project EUINFONET

DPNSEE was one of 4 organisations from Serbia which signed the contract with the (RYCO) for implementation of projects in scope of the 4th Open CallA Better Region Starts with Youth”. The Call is financially supported by the European Union. The Contracting Meeting was held on 23 February 2021 in the Human Rights House (Kuća ljudskih prava), in Belgrade.

During the signing ceremony, the welcoming remarks were delivered by the Head of Information, Communication and Press at the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia Mr Paul-Henri Presset, the Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Serbia Ms Marija Bulat, Youth Representative in the RYCO Governing Board Mr Marko Kostić and the Assistant Minister for International Cooperation in the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Serbia Mr Uroš Pribićević.

Other three projects supported will be implemented by Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina, Red Cross of Vojvodina and Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia.

The selected projects will enable development of youth-led processes of intercultural dialogue and reconciliation in the Western Balkans, and the development of social capital among young people by strengthening the competences of young people and those who work with them.

Moreover, the projects are important for furthering implementation capacities of CSOs using a learning-by-doing approach, with special focus on increasing capacities to adapt and remain operational during COVID-19 pandemic situations and imposed safety measures. The supported projects standout as creative and innovative proposals, including online components or online focus.

The DPNSEE project “No Risk, no borders for young people” 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.

It will be implemented in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia in partnership with our member organisations Aksion Plus, Margina, Juventas, Prevent and Re Generation.

The video from the signing ceremony is available at the Youtube channel of the EU delegation in Serbia

 

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 model of work in Zenica and Tuzla

Denis Dedajić, President of the Association Margina from Bosnia and Herzegovina sent us a short summary of the situation from March 1 to April 10.

Drawing on our life experiences we have had the opportunity to experience (the 4-year war, the floods of 2014), we can point out that we have very quickly adapted to the situation caused by the COVID 19 pandemic.

Our operations are compounded by the funding problems of our services that you are already aware of. Our organization is the only one that has survived the provision of harm reduction services in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In accordance with the orders and recommendations of the Crisis Staff managing this health and social crisis, we had to close both Drop in centres (Zenica and Tuzla) and transferred all forces to the field.

A rapid mapping of the terrain was carried out and interviews with a large number of clients enabled a new methodology of work, all in line with the recommendations on the method of contacts between people. We currently cover all our clients in two regions, covering about 1 million people and about 1.800 of our clients, and with the great help of our clients we have identified in both regions 20 key points – persons to whom we deliver all the materials available to us.

The material is delivered on the basis of the stated needs of our clients. In the period from March 1st to April 10th we distributed in both regions 51.800 needles and syringes, 25.000 pieces of distilled water, alcohol wipes, containers for preparation of the mixture and 1.200 containers for disposal of infectious waste. It should be noted that during this period about 45.000 needles and syringes and other infectious material were collected and deposited in our drop in centres until this crisis passed.

We have established 4 sex workers supply lines and have distributed a lot of materials (over 500 hygiene packages) and unfortunately this is the only one they have received over the last three months.

The biggest win at the moment is the involvement and commitment of our clients throughout this work process.

In interviews with the inmates of the largest prison, we confirmed that they lack basic equipment such as mask gloves and disinfectants and the needs are quite high. The good situation is that all visits are suspended and there is very little opportunity for COVID to break into these facilities, although they need urgent help with these safeguards to improve the prevention system and reduce the possibility of infection.

 All of this work is done by 6 of our employees and we all do all the work and have very few resources at our disposal. The 6 of us have been volunteering for a long time and will work as long as we have materials to share with our clients.

If this model of work continues, our supplies are sufficient by the end of June. After that we will be forced to close after 18 years of conducting harm reduction services in Bosnia and Herzegovina because we will no longer be able to do so.

 

Regional conference on youth at risk

The regional conference on youth at risk, the closing event of the project “At-Risk Youth Social Empowerment“, was held in Podgorica, Montenegro on 10 – 11 December 2019. The project was supported by the European Union and implemented by consortium of six organizations from six Western Balkan countries: Juventas (project coordinator, Montenegro), ARSIS (Albania), Association Margina (Bosnia and Herzegovina), HOPS (Macedonia), NGO Labyrinth (Kosovo), Prevent (Serbia).

The conference aimed to examine results of the implementing reforms as well as remaining challenges in the field of social policies focusing on youth at risk. Within the scope of this project, youth at risk category includes young people using drugs, young people in conflict with the law, youth without parental care, young Roma, youth with street experience, youth living in families with history of using drugs or/and conflict with the law.

The conference gathered policy officials, researchers, service providers, civil society activists and members of the academia from the region of Western Balkan and Europe to discuss current social position of different youth at risk categories and main obstacles for better social integration. Guests and speakers included Nikola Janović, Minister of Sports and Youth, Government of Montenegro and representatives of the ministries of Health, Education, Justice and Labour and Social Welfare, Fiona McCluney, resident coordinator, UN system Montenegro, Michaela Bauer, UNICEF’s Deputy Representative for Montenegro and Ana Margarida Tome De Freitas Mariguesa, European Delegation to Montenegro, among others.

One of the main topics was related to the social services in terms of their quality, regional availability, process of monitoring and evaluation. Also, the conference was the opportunity to explore current state of the cooperation between public administration and civil society in the process of service provision. Different modes of cooperation were discussed including examples of good practice with the aim to identifying cooperation models that can have best possible results. The sustainability of the social services was one of the topics.

A very emotional moment of the conference was screening of the movie “Where is the home?” which was produced with the support from the project. The movie presents personal stories of two young man who grew up in a home for children and youth without parental care.

Representatives of the DPNSEE member organisations were active throughout the conference. Board members Nebojša Đurasović and Denis Dedajić were panellists, while Executive Director Milutin Milošević moderated one of the panels.

A publication about our project

In the last decade, an increasing number of donors are withdrawing their support for healthcare. This has been especially true for middle-income countries, where the growth of domestic resources was one of the triggers for donor funding reduction. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) has termed this process as “transition”.

In 2018 the Open Society Foundations, through the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), initiated the project Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe. It provided funding to three transitioning countries in the Balkan region – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia – through the sub-regional network organization, Drug Policy Network South East Europe (DPNSEE), to support budget advocacy for harm reduction services. The local coordinating organisations are Margina, Juventas and Prevent.

The case study looks at the implementation of this project as one of the demonstrations of the SBF mechanism, with the objectives to:

  • Document the pilot in 3 Balkan countries and to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of this approach and to develop suggestions for improvement; and,
  • Document the results, successes, and challenges of the budget advocacy projects supported through this approach.

Our project serves as a pilot for the Sustainability Bridge Funding (SBF), an idea that has been discussed among donors and civil society organizations as a way of mitigating the negative effects of transition and in providing support for key essential services for communities and key populations. As a safety net mechanism, it should respond to gaps in funding and mitigate adverse effects of donor funding withdrawal.

Please find the document following this link>>>

Results of the budget advocacy presented

A workshop on Budget advocacy and monitoring in South East Europe was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina from 23 to 25 September 2019. Aim of the workshop was to present and discuss the results of the budget analysis implemented by mr sci Faruk Hadžić dipl ecc with support of the Association Margina team, the coordinating organisation of the regional project Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe for the country.

Even though the organisers made a huge effort to invite representatives of various institutions, not many of them participated in the workshop. But, the quality of presentation and facilitation provoked a very fruitful discussion and motivating atmosphere.

The conclusions of the workshop are summarised in one sentence: There is enough money in the system, but planning, analysis and strategic thinking are weak and they hit back as a boomerang.

The contacts established and agreements made are optimistic with hope that in the forthcoming period an open process of designing the system of social contracting of civil society services in Bosnia Herzegovina.

The Analysis of the budgets in Bosnia and Herzegovina is available following this link>>>

 

Alarming situation in Bosnia Herzegovina

With delay in establishing political structures in the country and reduced international donor support, the situation with harm reduction services in Bosnia Herzegovina became alarming. Here is what we heard from Denis Dedajić, Chairman of the Association Margina and DPNSEE Board member:

The current situation is as follows: the Margin Association is the only survivor with the services and we provide them now and on a larger scale because no other service provided by other NGOs is active, so all clients have turned to us. We are taking over users and equipment from Sarajevo and we shall organise distribution with support of few gatekeepers who used to work for us recently.

I estimate that we will endure until the end of October and after that we shall have no more materials for distribution. The salaries of our staff need not be talked about, as of May we are all volunteers and the funds we had are already spent on transportation and rents of the space we use.

The situation is further complicated by a few things. What concerns us most are the indolence of the authorities and the large waves of migrants coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yesterday, I was in contact with asylum officers and they informed me that about 1.000 immigrants a day enter northern Bosnia and in different ways move west to the border with Croatia and the EU respectively. They aim at Western Europe, but their psycho-physical condition is very poor. There is an increasing number of fatalities, both as a result of illness (quite a large number of TB and Hepatitis C), which is due to conflicts between groups from different countries (Afghanistan Pakistan, Algeria Morocco, Syria, Bangladesh). These conflicts generally end with very serious injuries by knives or other cold weapons. We have had about 100 contacts so far and have been using sterile injection supplies. According to asylum officers, many drug users have been around for several years.

NO one is doing anything on this issue, and we are simply waiting for when a major incident will occur so that everything will surface.

We sincerely hope that a solution will be found soon to revitalize the harm reduction services and ensure health support needed.