Reintegration of returned migrant children in Albania and Kosovo

Faced with limited opportunities in Albania and Kosovo, people continue to migrate despite the risks. However, many are refused asylum or return home due to difficulties they encounter abroad. Terre des hommes (Tdh) works to improve their reintegration and to prevent unsafe migration.

Returned migrant families face considerable challenges reintegrating in the existing systems, especially education, and their social and economic conditions are often harsher as prior to their leave. Through our projects in Albania and Kosovo, we support vulnerable children and their families to overcome these challenges and to have access to quality education and social services.

 

Poverty, unemployment, social exclusion and lack of services in Albania and Kosovo have been identified as the main causes driving vulnerable people to emigrate. Return migration has also intensified over the past years, as many do not meet the requirements for asylum in Europe. Very often, the experience of migration, especially if unprepared, is traumatising for children and keeps them out of school for longer periods of time.

 

Improving children’s well-being

Once children are back in Albania or Kosovo, they can attend Tdh’s after-school activities to make up for the time they missed school and to be able to reintegrate in the regular education system. In collaboration with local authorities and organisations, we created multi-functional community centres in Albania, while we opened several after school centers in Kosovo. Regular summer camps are organised in both countries. There, children can engage in psychosocial and recreational activities, make new friends and develop their cognitive, social and creative abilities. Through these activities, they improve their emotional well-being and academic performance.

 

Social and economic empowerment of vulnerable families

Some of the returned migrant families are supported to initiate small businesses at home or activities that ensure them a basic income. Within the project, more than 640 families in Albania and Kosovo receive our small grants and assistance for starting such activities. This allows them to cover some of their daily needs, such as food and school supplies for their children. Many young people benefit from vocational training and thus gain professional skills that allow them to become economically independent. This kind of support gives returned migrant families the opportunity to start anew, but not with empty hands. It improves their living conditions, as well as their self-confidence and social reintegration. Additionally, we work with local authorities to ensure that the most disadvantaged families have a roof over their head.

 

Preventing unsafe migration

We train professionals at local level and foster cooperation among communities, civil society organisations and authorities, so that they are able to support the reintegration of returned families and prevent unsafe migration. Both in Albania and Kosovo, we carry out regular meetings with parents at our centres. They come there to improve their parenting skills and discuss common challenges such as reintegration and employment. Migrant families that returned and the ones who plan to migrate get the opportunity to meet and share their stories and concerns. The employees of the centres provide a wide range of information related to child protection and migration, with the aim to prevent engagement in unsafe migration.

 

Advocating for the rights of the child

In order to ensure a long term impact, we conduct research and advocate for proper policies at national and international level. One of the focuses is the best interest of the child at any stage of the migration process.

 

 

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