What did we learn from the migrant crisis?

On 31st of March, on the occasion of the release of the World Magazine THE ECONOMIST in Macedonian, the Faculty of Economics in Skopje held a conference entitled: “ECONOMIST - THE WORLD IN 2016” organized by the association Color-media Macedonia.

The conference was divided into five panels, each one connected to contemporary global developments at the same time related to economic issues. It was attended by ministers, bankers, university professors, ambassadors, members of the parliament, members of international and local organizations, journalists etc.

One of the panels was dedicated to the refugee crisis with the title: “What did we learn from the migrant crisis?”and was moderated by Milka Smilevska, journalist and correspondent from Macedonia for the news channel Al-Jazeera.

The speakers at this panel were:

• Dushanka Divjak Tomikj - Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia in Macedonia

• Rajae Msefer Berrada - UNICEF

• Lauren Panetta - UNHCR

• Mersiha Smailovikj - Legis, NGO

• Kastriot Rexhepi –Nun Culture, NGO

• Ivica Bocevski - Advisor to the President of the Republic of Macedonia

The Serbian Ambassador began her speech reminding the audience that the Republic of Serbia has constantly seen refugees and displaced persons on its territory since 1991. Therefore, they handle the crisis successfully. Thanks to the immediate opening of six refugee camps and thanks to the law that has always allowed legal transport and freedom of movement throughout the territory of Serbia. She said: "The crisis taught us to put aside our disputes and to focus on helping refugees. This happened, for example, with us and with Croatia."

International organizations informed participants about their mission aimed at helping refugees in Macedonia. The Office of the United Nations and the High Commissioner for Refugees played an important role.

Mersiha Smailovikj spoke about all the challenges faced by refugees who cross Macedonia. She mentioned 33 victims whose right to life was not granted. She said: "The refugee crisis taught us, citizens of Macedonia, that when we come together, putting aside all our differences, we are able to take care of half a million refugees. We welcome them on highways with fresh baked bread, a bottle of water and a smile, feeling compassion for their pain. The refugee crisis has made us more united, with one mission and one desire: helping refugees”. The Legis team was taken as example, because around this organization, numerous volunteers of different nationalities, religions, political affiliations gravitate constantly, putting aside their differences and being united in solidarity and humanity.

All speakers agreed on stating that the people of Macedonia are the real hero of this refugee crisis, because they have learned an important lesson about unity and solidarity.