On May 18-19, the Forum for Cooperation and Integration – a networking meeting of representatives from more than 30 organizations from across Poland that deal with migration issues and share the values of the organizations affiliated with the Migration Consortium – was held in Warsaw. The idea behind the establishment of the Forum was the need to strengthen the voice of organizations, to increase cooperation at the advocacy level, and to share knowledge about what is happening in particular geographic, thematic or institutional areas.
Over the two days, we discussed forms of cooperation and the most important challenges we will face in the near and distant future. During the event, we presented the Migration Academy – a hybrid tool for acquiring knowledge and competencies in the field of migration management for local governments, local leaders and community organizations. In a panel discussion on fundraising, we hosted experts representing UNHCR, the European Commission in Poland, NRC – Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, International Rescue Committee and NGO Forum. As part of the “Flying Academy”, we shared knowledge in areas such as education, law, integration, housing and psychological assistance.
Organizations from all over Poland participated in the Forum. We wanted to go beyond the context of the work of organizations in large cities, to learn about the realities of the work of organizations in other regions as well. In addition to the Migration Consortium, the meeting mainly brought together representatives of organizations from smaller towns, those that have recently taken up work on behalf of people with migratory experience, and organizations founded by migrants and migrants themselves.
All of the people assembled over the past year have done titanic work for Ukrainian (and other) refugees in Poland. Among other things, it involved providing shelter and food, reuniting families, finding jobs or housing, but also, for example, assisting with childbirth or getting to school. We all did more than we could have imagined.
This work could have been much easier if not for the way humanitarian aid is organized. It will soon be a year since we published a letter to international donors and partners calling for an equal approach to the idea of partnership, respect for our organizations’ limited time and resources, standardized procedures, transparency, honesty and long-term planning. During this time we have learned a lot, and some of the international organizations have learned along with us. However, there are still many challenges ahead of us to improve the quality of this cooperation.
The Forum for Cooperation and Integration was established because we want to carry out activities that will bring about broad change. We join forces so that we can strengthen each other in development, resources and the realization of common goals. We know that such support may be particularly needed by organizations whose voice is less heard in Warsaw. During the meeting, we took time together to think about our resources – what we can share with each other. We exchanged information about needs and answered the question of what we can do together in the long term.
We agree that integration, networking and commonality of practices have real importance and impact on the effectiveness of our work. In addition to real arrangements for day-to-day work, the Forum is also a great opportunity to spend time together with people who share similar values, who share the idea of social justice and an open and welcoming Poland. We want it to be a time of respite and strengthening. Thank you for your interest and participation in this event, and may the inspiration that flowed from this meeting stay with us for a long time and be used as a drive for joint action.