Nowadays on-going needs of migrants have created an unprecedented challenge for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Herein, advocacy is playing a crucial role in the International Movement response to migration, and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are each at the heart of the issues affecting the people the International Movement is striving to support.
Therefore, on 12-13 December, 2016 the IFRC Regional Office for Europe held an advocacy skillshare meeting with participation of experts from 20 National RCRC Societies, IFRC technical leads and external speakers to provide a forum for an open discussion, brainstorming and practical advice on advocacy in domestic contexts.
The IFRC Regional Director, Dr. Simon Missiri held the opening speech of the meeting and highlighted the importance of strengthening cooperation among National Societies for effective protection and assistance to migrants: “We are stronger when we stand together.” Later on IFRC ROE Deputy Director, Mr Elhkan Rahimov, Sr Migration Officer, Borbala Bodolai, Lead Migration Officer, Tiziana Bonzon and ICRC head of Mission/Cooperation Coordinator in Budapest Patrick Gueissaz overviewing of policy landscape affecting migrants’ vulnerabilities stressed the importance of National Societies’ capacity buildings in advocacy.
Following the opening session of the meeting, the participants were exposed to the Theory of Change, which was a helpful framework to prepare advocacy plans in national context. The session was facilitated with the expertise of the British Red Cross, Mr Jonathan Ellis.
The primary purpose of the event was to benefit from expertise and skills of the National Societies. Thus, on the second day of the meeting the participants of the National Societies made presentations on their advocacy work in migration. They exchanged their success stories, learnings, triumphs and challenges in doing advocacy in the domestic context and as well as means of overcoming obstacles in daily advocacy work.
The representatives of the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society (AzRC) mentioned that in Azerbaijan migration had begun to develop in the 1990s, however, the flow of migrants had increased since 2000s. Tolerant environment and traditions of multiculturalism existing in Azerbaijan was one of the reasons that stimulated the flow of migrants into the country. Therefore, the Azerbaijan RC was doing advocacy in migration for a long time and already created effective cooperative relations with the State Migration Service, IOM, UNHCR and several NGOs working in this field. Moreover, they pointed out that since 2014 the Azerbaijan RC jointly with UNHCR had run out the project wherein the National Society had organized free-of-charge Azerbaijan language courses for migrants in our country in order to facilitate the process of migrants’ integration into the society. The presentations were followed by Q&A.