Migration, Displacement and Community Resilience Conference

Managing migration for long-term positive development impacts

Belgrade, Serbia | 4-5 October 2016

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Migration and displacement are rapidly growing phenomena and have diverse implications for the societies involved, resulting in both risks and opportunities for origin, transit and host communities. This region has faced varying population movement dynamics over time, but in the Western Balkans and Turkey, the effects of the recent migration crisis and the consequent population flows provide an important opportunity to evaluate how to respond. These newest developments only further highlight an already existing need to strengthen the resilience of the affected communities through longer-term development investments in the region.

Despite a seeming reduction of the flow of refugees and migrants through the Balkans since March 2016, effects of migration and displacement continue to be felt. Unsustainable pressure on transit and recipient states, municipalities and communities has threatened their stability and sustainable development. More importantly, it has revealed some significant capacity gaps that need to be addressed, whether pertaining to emergency response or to long-term preparedness for immigrating, returning, transiting and emigrating populations.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focus on the ‘furthest behind’—including refugees and internally displaced people and their host communities. The SDGs recognise that development goes hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth, address social needs including education, health, social protection and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.

The meeting provided a platform for improved coordination between the most affected municipalities and increase information and knowledge-sharing for better contingency and recovery planning. Participating municipalities discussed how they had prepared for different migration movements - starting from the effects of the outflow of nationals to the recent arrival of migrants and refugees - to share experiences and identify the key lessons learned.

The meeting brought together representatives both from municipalities that are hosting large communities of migrants and refugees, and from those that have experienced only transit flows. These distinctions are increasingly fluid, as former transit communities are seeing longer stays by refugees and migrants who cannot move further on. The meeting also explored how the opportunities that returning, migrating and displaced populations offer can be leveraged for development over the longer term, and how to build the resilience of the communities against fluctuations of inhabitants.

Three main outputs were:

  • a mapping of the support needs of both host and transit municipalities and identifying capacity gaps;

  • the establishment of an informal mechanism of information-sharing between municipalities to improve coordination, response and contingency planning;

  • a collection of good practices and lessons learned to develop a guide for municipalities on bridging the humanitarian and development gap, implementing resilience-based development solutions, and managing the effects of various migratory movements for positive development impacts.

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