Latvian Red Cross, in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency`s Regional Representation for Northern Europe (UNHCR), organized trainings in five different regions across Latvia from  September  23 to 27 with the theme “Work for the integration of refugees and immigrants: intercultural interaction, good practice and experience.”

The trainings which are part of the international Red Cross project “AVAIL- Amplifying the Voices of Asylum Seekers and Refugees for Integration and Life Skills.” was put together to build capacity and expertise of more than one hundred service providers, public authorities and representatives of local communities.  The regions that benefited from the training include Rezekne, Puikule, Bauska, Saldus and Riga.

The representatives from UNHCR, Marcel Colun and Karolis Zibas, presented general information about the current situation related to issues of asylum, migration and relocation, the effect of legislative changes on results of the integration of refugees and immigrants, as well as overall integration policy and processes at the regional and national level.

Two refugees shared their life stories and the experience of being a refugee. They presented aspects of intercultural communication and good practice of integration activities. One of the speakers was a Syrian refugee living in Latvia, Sulaeman Alzouabi, who works as a doctor in a hospital. Another speaker was Tamim Nashed, a refugee from Syria who is now living in Austria. Tamim has previous working experience as an expert in politics at the European Commission, currently working as an independent expert on integration and intercultural communication.

The audience of these trainings were employees of state and municipal institutions, including policy planners, representatives from educational institutions, social and health care workers and activists from other non-governmental organizations.

After these trainings, participants admitted that they had received a lot of new and interesting information that will be useful in their daily work and communication with foreigners. Also, they revealed that from now on they will be more critical towards information about the migration crisis, refugees and intercultural interaction presented by media.