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The dynamics of migration in Kosovo and Terre des hommes’ work on the reintegration of returned migrant children

2019-07-18

Due to the economic and political situation, the population of Kosovo continues to migrate to Western European countries. Nonetheless, many people are forced to return home, due to refused asylum, as they are considered economic migrants. The return of the large number of migrants found Kosovo’s institutions unprepared to handle this concern. Terre des hommes in Kosovo has worked over the past four years on the reintegration of returned migrant children and families. In 2018 alone, 1160 children and 456 parents benefited from our activities, in order to ensure their smooth reintegration and prevent further unsafe migration.

The population of Kosovo continues to migrate to Western European countries, although the number of people who migrated irregularly has decreased in 2017-18 comparing with the previous years. In late 2014 and beginning of 2015, Kosovo experienced a massive wave of unsafe migration. A large number of families and children were crossing irregularly state borders in hope to request asylum and stay in one of the EU countries.

According to studies, the main drivers of the decision to migrate were the bad economic situation in Kosovo, desire to access better health care or social services in the destination country and unstable political situation of the country.

The vast majority of asylum applications were refused from Western European countries, because Kosovar citizens are classified as economic migrants. According to statistical numbers, from 2011 to 2017 around 10% of the residential population has been returned to Kosovo.

The return of the large number of migrants found Kosovo’s institutions unprepared to handle this concern. The migration experience had serious implications for the returnees’ wellbeing, difficulties in reintegration process due to fact that in most cases, returnees restarted their life with few resources of their own.

Terre des hommes in Kosovo has worked over the past four years on the reintegration of returned migrant children and families. A multidisciplinary approach is used to promote safe, sustainable return and successful reintegration.

Children are the ones most affected by the returning process. The language barrier, poverty and challenges in socialisation are factors that could lead children to drop out of school. Tdh has established twenty Learning After School classes in ten different municipalities of Kosovo with the aim to facilitate the reintegration of children in school and provide the needed academic support. "At the very beginning, returned children in my class knew very few letters of the Albanian language, and also faced major difficulties in some other subjects. However, after a good cooperation with the school management and Tdh, we progressively contributed to improve their academic performance as well as facilitate their integration into the school." – said Indra Jashari, a Tdh teaching assistant at "Tefik Çanga" primary school in the municipality of Ferizaj.

Returned families and children are vulnerable to social-emotional and psychological problems and children may also face difficulties to socialise with their peers. In ten municipalities of Kosovo, 1160 children and 456 parents benefited in 2018 from different psycho-social and parenting activities, so as to ensure their smooth reintegration and prevent further unsafe migration. "During the implementation of psycho-social games and initiatives it was obvious that children felt happy, showed their creativity, expressed freely their emotions and opinions and contributed to promote cultural exchange among different communities living in Kosovo, such as Albanian, Roma and Ashkali. The psycho-social activities had a positive impact on strengthening children’s identity, self-confidence, improving their communication and collaboration skills." – said Zyle Hasani, school pedagogue in "Skenderbeu" school in Mitrovica.

Tdh further continues its work to facilitate the reintegration of returned families and children in Kosovo, in order to provide support to children when they need it the most.