Slovak Catholic Charity, Integration Project Rafael (Anna Balgova, Mgr. Emilia Trepacova, Mgr. Jana Verdura )

Our focus is working with refugees that obtain international protection in Slovakia. Why do some people tend to radicalise? We want to belong somewhere. However, we often can be excluded, from classrooms, friends and the larger society. If we are excluded, we cannot feel satisfied with our lives and young people in these situations are more vulnerable to become a part of radical groups. Successful integration plays a really important part in this process. We are Caritas Slovakia, a non-profit, providing charitable social health care for those in need, including creating projects for victims of human trafficking. We seek to help without regard to origin, religion, nationality or political affiliation. Our first project was Backita, which aimed at providing comprehensive services to unaccompanied minors. Our current project is Rafael (patron saint of all travellers) where we are offering support in various aspects including social, legal, psychological counselling, and Slovak language courses. We have 3 integration centres, in Bratislava, Central Slovakia and in the East.

Many of the realities/problems that we encounter: health insurance, public opinion/impacted by politicians’ opinions, accommodation, pension insurance, Our focus is the situation of the clients.

What can we do better?

There are so many obstacles to be overcome. We are known as a country that is not open to migrants. We, as a nation, are an official partner of the ministry of interior – deporting people. As Caristas, we struggle every day to make a better condition for the refugees lives, those who came here. Our country should take responsibility for the people that are already here. This year only 100 asylum applications were launched in our country. We need to build a successful national integration program. We don't have one. A common asylum system in the EU should be build where the rights of those coming here can be ensured. We need to focus on long term projects: organisations are changing, people are changing. But building connections with refugees takes time. We need to consider this. Also, meetings are often just for us to speak to ourselves. We need more space for public discussion, and media needs to change the narratives. It’s really important to involve local communities to the integration process. Notes Submitted by Heather Fraser-Harris

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