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Europe’s Humanitarian Crisis and Romania’s Role” was the subject of one of the panels of Romanian Peace Forum 2017.  The session was focused on the issue of refugee integration – especially in Romanian society- which was presented as an urgent problem both internationally and at the local level. The guests of this panel were representatives of the MigraNet project – the Regional Network for the Integration of Migrants. It is a project financed by European Union, initially for a year (May 2016-May 2017), and recently extended for another two years.

The target groups of this project are beneficiaries of protection and third country nationals. To ensure the easy integration of these groups into society, the initiators of the MigraNet project have developed a new version of Maslow’s Pyramid: they’ve tried to prioritize the urgent needs of the migrants, creating in this way a pragmatic strategy of integration. Among the basic needs, for both target groups, were access to housing, access to medical benefits, access to education and access to the labor market. Therefore the project was oriented to respond to these needs first. But an impressive thing, from my point of view, is the fact that the organizers haven’t limited themselves to only offering material support, but that they also facilitate cultural and social integration processes through offering Romanian language courses and organizing recreational activities. Moreover, LADO, the leading partner of MigraNet, is organizing a multicultural festival.

Another important issue discussed in this panel regards the image of immigrants in media. The press has an essential role in facilitating the inclusive integration of migrants. Sadly though, the press offers dozens of fake news with strong xenophobic stances when it come to immigrants. An index of integration measures is being created by MigraNet members, in order to improve the integration process of immigrants in Romanian society and also to provide data on immigrants.

As for me, I felt honored and thrilled to see such an initiative at the local level, to see that it is ongoing and that there are efforts for real social cohesion. Within the heart of this project remains the authentic desire to help and contribute to the building of peace within our society.

Oana Calatean