An interesting discussion about the harm reduction crisis in SEE

On the 20th of April 2022, the three Networks organized a Webinar on Harm reduction crisis in South East Europe. During this event, national decision-makers from the region, researchers, harm reduction service providers, community and civil society representatives came together to present and discuss the key findings of the research activities.

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association and the Drug Policy Network of South-Eastern Europe have been working together to advocate for addressing the harm reduction crisis in South East Europe since 2019.

Countries of South-Eastern Europe and the Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia, are experiencing relatively high levels of HIV and HVC infection among people who inject drugs. However, due to limited domestic resources and the gradual withdrawal of the Global Fund from the region, the governments of these countries are facing a lack of resources to continue the long-term funding of comprehensive harm reduction programmes.

During this webinar, C-EHRN, EHRA and DPNSE present the research Crisis in harm reduction funding: The impact of transition from Global Fund to Government support and opportunities to achieve sustainable harm reduction services for people who inject drugs in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia they have conducted in the area and discuss its key findings, which include among others:

  • Common challenges of scaling-up harm reduction programmes in the countries of South-Eastern Europe.
  • Consequences of the limited funding of the harm reduction services for public health and national healthcare systems.
  • Opportunities available for the governments of the region to act and invest funds and efforts in effective and proven models of harm reduction in their respective countries.

Building upon this research, this publication, and also policy briefing and factsheet, highlight opportunities available for the governments of the region to act and invest funds and efforts in effective and proven models of harm reduction in their respective countries.

Recording of the Webinar is available below.

Harm reduction crisis in South East Europe

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association and the Drug Policy Network of South-Eastern Europe have been working together to advocate for addressing the harm reduction crisis in South East Europe since 2019.

The three networks are hosting an online discussion about the funding challenges and opportunities for governments to the crisis of harm reduction services in SEE countries and the Balkans.

The webinar will take place on the 20th of April from 13:00h to 14:30h CET.

Countries of South-Eastern Europe and the Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia, are experiencing relatively high levels of HIV and HVC infection among people who inject drugs. However, due to limited domestic resources and the gradual withdrawal of the Global Fund from the region, the governments of these countries are facing a lack of resources to continue the long-term funding of comprehensive harm reduction programmes.

During this webinar, C-EHRN, EHRA and DPNSE will present the research they have conducted in the area as well as opportunities available for the governments of the region to act and invest funds and efforts in effective and proven models of harm reduction in their respective countries.

The webinar is open to national decision-makers from the SEE region, the Balkans and other European countries, researchers, harm reduction activists, civil society representatives, harm reduction service providers and the media.

The event will be held in English. To register and to receive the complete webinar agenda, please fill in the form https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-4Dh14MmQumJc3mPJxZgOw

Please contact for more details: Roberto Perez Gayo rpgayo@correlation-net.org

 

Crisis in harm reduction funding

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association and the Drug Policy Network of South-Eastern Europe have been working together to advocate for addressing the harm reduction crisis in South East Europe since 2019.

Countries of South-Eastern Europe and the Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia, are experiencing relatively high levels of HIV and HVC infection among people who inject drugs, including those who inject psychoactive substances. However, due to limited domestic resources and the gradual withdrawal of the Global Fund from the region, the governments of these countries are facing a lack of resources to continue the long-term funding of comprehensive harm reduction programmes. In addition to these and other barriers, in some countries, there is no legal basis for NGOs to provide services to marginalized populations, including people who use drugs.

Graham Shaw produced the research he have conducted with our and support of our colleagues from the region.

The following report, policy briefing and factsheet present and analyze current common challenges of scaling-up harm reduction programmes in the countries of South-Eastern Europe and the consequences of the limited funding of the harm reduction services for public health and national healthcare systems. Building upon this research, these publications highlight opportunities available for the governments of the region to act and invest funds and efforts in effective and proven models of harm reduction in their respective countries.

Report

 

 

 

 

 

 

Policy brief

 

 

 

 

 

 

Factsheet

Closing project event in Montenegro

The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) organized a final event within its EU-supported project “Enhancing Youth Cooperation and Youth Exchange in the WB6” in Podgorica on 8 February 2022. The event presented the results of four projects supported within the 4th RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals. It was attended by representatives of RYCO, the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, Ministry for Education, Science, Culture and Sports, Directorate for Sports and Youth, Representatives of RYCO Governing and Advisory Boards, RYCO beneficiaries, Young European Ambassadors, young people who took part in the RYCO supported activities.

The supported projects successfully addressed the gaps of youth active engagement in regional reconciliation processes by focusing on aspects of democracy and identity, enhanced youth cooperation in the fields of dealing with the past, youth empowerment and development, social inclusion of youth at risk, intercultural dialogue, etc. They were implemented by Montenegrin Pan-European Union, Grammar school “Slobodan Škerović”, NGO Juventas, Foundation Biznis Start-up Centar Bar.

“Through a series of activities implemented within the project in which my organization took part, young people managed to overcome numerous prejudices, share experiences and learn about the ways in which their peers and organizations from the region approach problem-solving matters,” Ms Ivana Kulašević, representative of NGO Juventas, concluded.

The projects supported by RYCO and the EU within the 4th RYCO Open Call across the Western Balkans fostered reconciliation and regional youth cooperation, as well as strengthened the capacities of the civil society to adapt to the COVID-19 environment. They were implemented from February to October 2021.

During the application phase, 129 applications were received which brought about 400 partnerships from the region. The overall financial envelope for the Call was 333,000 Euro.

 

Taking stock of budget advocacy efforts in EECA

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) presented the mapping report „Taking stock of budget advocacy efforts in Eastern Europe, South-Eastern Europe and Central Asiа“ summarising budget advocacy efforts, funding and impact during the period 2018-2021 in CEECA countries. The focus of the assessment is on the role of civil society in budget advocacy, while acknowledging that government leaders, UN and technical partners play important roles as well. The assessment describes key budget advocacy initiatives and HIV donor support for them.

The report zooms in the four result areas of advocacy: civil society capacity to advocate; influencing HIV funding levels from national and local public sources; increasing efficiencies in spending; and contracting and funding for NGOs to deliver services. Without offering a comprehensive review, one of the final sections of the report shines light on efforts to influence budgets beyond HIV including in the fields of TB and health systems.

Regional overview is based on eight country case studies (including three fro Sout East Europe) exploring national experiences with budget advocacy, emerging challenges, and best practices. Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Ukraine (lower middle-income countries), Georgia, Kazakhstan and Montenegro (upper middle income countries receiving donor support), and Bulgaria and North Macedonia (post-Global Fund countries) were selected for analysis.

To keep the mapping manageable and focused, this assessment has not attempted to assess neither the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on HIV budget advocacy and fiscal space for health financing nor potential savings from reducing criminalization of population behaviours.

Analytical report «Taking stock of budget advocacy efforts in Eastern Europe, South-Eastern Europe and Central Asiа» has been prepared by EHRA in partnership with Open Society Foundations, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Sustainability, Transition and Efficiency Strategic Initiative and EECA regional team in cooperation with ECOM – Eurasian Coalition on Health, Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversity and Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS (EWNA) as partners in the Eurasian Regional Consortium withing project “Thinking outside the box: overcoming challenges in community advocacy for sustainable and high-quality HIV services” supported by the Robert Carr Fund for civil society networks. Information was provided by country, regional and international partners. We are grateful to all our partners, members of Regional Advisory Group on Sustainability, interviewees and reviewers for their time and effort in work on this report.

To read the report, follow this link>>>.

 

Illicit financial flows – the lifeblood of crime and corruption

Each year, millions of Euros of illicit financial flows (IFFs) circulate through the Western Balkans, despite significant government efforts to prevent this type of crime. The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (GI TOC) published the report Illicit financial flows in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. This report completes their study of illicit financial flows (IFFs) in the Western Balkans.

The focus this time is Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. IFFs are the mechanisms by which money earned illegally is transferred into and out of economies to criminal beneficiaries worldwide. Each year, large sums of money are transferred out of developing and transitioning economies. These are funds that could have been used for public and private goods: public services, investment or jobs. The whole society suffers as a result of their loss.

The recommendations from the report focus first of all on improving the visibility and data-sharing on IFFs, particularly in the financial sector and trade ‘channels’. Second, GI TOC encourage a far greater dialogue on IFFs in the region, focused on a clearer definition and with an explicit role for CSOs. Third, national IFF priorities should be agreed on, to ensure the responses are measured and meaningful, such as greater institutional information sharing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and updated AML frameworks for Montenegro and Serbia, with a particular focus on the construction sector. Fourth, the countries should also agree on and coordinate regional priorities, such as harmonization of measures to address tax evasion and a common policy to record and monitor beneficial ownership. Government anti-corruption activities need greater strength across the region. Finally, donor support for combating IFFs must be more closely aligned and coordinated to avoid duplication of effort.

The report in English is available following this link>>>.

Version in Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian is available following this link>>>.

 

Accompanying the report, GI TOC organises webinar on 26 Jan 2022 at 3 PM (CET). The webinar will stimulate a conversation around key issues of IFFs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia and the broader Western Balkans region. The event will feature insights from experts on the topic from the three focus countries as well as other experts on IFFs to look at the problem and effective responses to it.

To participate, register here>>>.

 

Two experts for pilot practice on former prisoners` re-integration in Montenegro

Juventas announced Call for application for two members of expert mission for developing and supporting the implementation of pilot practice on former prisoners` re-integration in Montenegrin prison system. We’re searching for EU expert for supporting treatment of prisoners and re-integration as a part of a project ”Provision of support to former prisoners for successful re-integration into the community – ReCover”.

The project is financially supported by European Union and Government of Montenegro, through IPA II Multi-annual Action Programme for Montenegro on Employment, Education and Social Policies.

The project intends to contribute to the respect for human rights of prisoners and their personality, dignity and right to fair treatment, while representing a common basis for further development and improvement of the prison system in Montenegro. The focus is on developing new program and support mechanisms that would prepare prisoners for the process of release as well as support former prisoners in the process of re-integration through providing employment services, social services, psychological support and counselling.

All the details of the Calls you can find following this link>>>

Montenegro adopted the same-sex partnership bill

After the Parliament legalized same-sex civil partnerships on Wednesday 1 July 2020, Montenegro is the first country in the region that is not a member of the European Union to recognise gay and lesbian couples in law. It was a very narrow majority of 42 to 5 in the 81-seat chamber of MPs from the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, the Social Democrats, the Liberal Party and the opposition Social Democratic Party.

The new law recognizes same-sex couples as legal unions but does not give them the same rights as married couples. They are still not allowed to adopt or foster children, for example, which human rights organizations say restrict LGBT rights; same-sex couples are also not recognized as families.

LGBT activists praised the decision as a historic step for society. “From today we are one step closer to full freedom and full equality. As never before, we are close to life with dignity and from today we stopped living as second-class citizens,” the advocacy group Queer Montenegro said in a press release.

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.

Global Fund 2020 Eligibility List

The Global Fund have just published their 2020 Eligibility List and the updated Projected Transitions List. Some of the changes are related to South East European countries.

Since Bulgaria and Romania are not on the OECD DAC list of ODA recipients, they may be eligible for an allocation for HIV for non-governmental or civil society organizations under Paragraph 9b of the Eligibility Policy only if they have demonstrated barriers to providing funding for interventions for key populations, as supported by the country’s epidemiology. As 2020 is an allocation year, the Secretariat has conducted an assessment and has determined that Bulgaria and Romania don’t meet the requirements under Paragraph 9b of the Eligibility Policy. Therefore, they have been determined not to be eligible for an HIV allocation for the 2020-2022 allocation period.

Kosovo* was classified as an Upper-Middle Income country in the 2019 Eligibility List based on the latest three-year average of GNI per capita data (Atlas method). As a result, the HIV and TB components may be eligible for an allocation of Transition Funding in the 2020-2022 allocation period.

North Macedonia‘s HIV component is now classified as eligible in the 2020 Eligibility List after meeting eligibility criteria for two consecutive eligibility determinations, noting that eligibility does not guarantee an allocation.

Montenegro and Serbia remain eligible for HIV and Romania for Tuberculosis.

 

The 2020 Eligibility List is now available on the Global Fund’s website>>>

The projected transitions list is available following this link>>>