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Join the CCHN’s journey along the Balkan migration route

By October 6, 2021February 2nd, 2022All News, Thematic projects

Pack your bags, we’re going on a trip!

During the month of October 2021, a CCHN team traveled along the Balkan migration route to discuss with humanitarian professionals in the region about their negotiation experiences and challenges. Through daily updates, you can accompany us on the journey and learn more about the complex world of humanitarian negotiations.

Humanitarian professionals working in the context of migration often have to negotiate access or protection for the benefit of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. This is a complex effort that implies several challenges – including moral dilemmas, political issues, and even some pressure on humanitarian operations. In this type of situation, many humanitarian professionals find it helpful to share their doubts and concerns with fellow field workers, seek the support of negotiation tools and methods developed by experts, and collaborate to come up with solutions.  By meeting local practitioners across Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Greece, the CCHN team will listen to their stories, try to better understand their challenges, and identify new ways to support their daily work. Browse the section below to see what is happening along the route every day. Make sure you follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to submit comments and questions to the CCHN team along the way. You can also send us an email to Stéphanie Ferland, Negotiation Support Specialist, at [email protected]. Are you all packed up? Then join us as of 11 October for the departure of the tour!

Let's go!

🇭🇷 1. Landing in Zagreb, heading towards the Bosnian border

Hello from Stéphanie! Our journey has just started. We landed in Zagreb, in Croatia, then hopped into a car and traveled towards the Bosnian border. By tonight we will be in Bihać, at the border with Croatia. Tomorrow we will be meeting some of the CCHN Community Members and different organizations in order to understand their challenges while working in this region. Don’t hesitate to follow along in the coming days and send questions or comments! See you again tomorrow.

🇧🇦 2. Meeting CCHN community members at the frontlines in Bosnia

Hello everyone! Stéphanie here with a little update on our trip: On this very rainy day, we spent time with our community members in Bihać to learn about their work and challenges. We also visited a local NGO called LAN –  they do amazing work with people on the move and are creating a safe space for children in the Borici Temporary Reception Center. Tomorrow, we will further explore Bihać and continue our journey to Sarajevo. Don’t hesitate to follow along in the coming days and send questions or comments! Vidimo se!


🇧🇦 3. Visiting two Temporary Reception Centers in Bihac

Good evening everyone, Maura here! I work with the Research & Development department of the CCHN and am currently on the Listening Tour with my colleagues Claude and Stéphanie. We had a very full and productive day in Bihać. We started early with a visit to Borići Temporary Reception Center which is close to the city. We were invited by LAN – a great organization that works with the children in the Center. After a tour of the facilities, we met with colleagues from the Bosnian Red Cross who are working to support populations of people on the move as well as the local community. Later, we visited the Lipa Temporary Reception Center, which hosts single men. It is located in a remote area and it is quite different from Borići. Now we are on our way to Bosnia Herzegovina’s capital Sarajevo – we will spend the coming 5 to 6 hours in the car. See you from Sarajevo!

🇧🇦 4. Exploring collaboration with Red Cross colleagues in Sarajevo

Good evening everyone! Another full and busy day comes to an end – this time in Sarajevo. For one, we were part of a meeting with the national partner societies: the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross. During this meeting, we discussed future cooperation for building the capacity of national societies in the Balkans on frontline negotiation. Maura also had a very productive day interacting with local and international students in the city. We hope you are enjoying the trip as much as we are! Tomorrow we will continue our journey through Sarajevo and head to Serbia. Don’t hesitate to follow along in the coming days and send questions or comments! All the best from Bosnia! Stéphanie

🇷🇸 5. A quick stop in Republika Srpska on our way to Serbia

Hello from Stéphanie and Claude! It is day 5 of our journey and we’re speaking to you from Zvornik, a city at the border between Bosnia and Serbia, as we make our way towards Belgrade. We stopped for a moment in this beautiful location on the banks of the Drina river to take stock of all we have learned until now – the Reception Centers we have visited, the humanitarian challenges we have heard about, the incredibly skilled frontline negotiators we have met. Claude summarises this all very well in the video below. Next time we speak, we will have entered the second leg of our journey in Serbia. Talk to you tomorrow. Stéphanie & Claude

🇷🇸 6. Visiting a support center for people on the move in Belgrade

Hello from Maura! The CCHN team has arrived in Belgrade, Serbia. I recorded some videos this morning as I was walking to an open information session about the mental health and wellbeing of people on the move, so you could see what the atmosphere is like over here. Meanwhile, Stéphanie and Claude headed towards Info Park, a support center for people on the move. Info Park, a grassroots initiative of civil activists founded in 2015, was originally a wooden kiosk in a park next to the bus station. They are now a much bigger operation that runs an information desk, an education space, a safe space for women and girls, and an internet café. Sara Ristic, who is a Protection Officer and a CCHN community member, spoke with us at length about the work they do in the center and the challenges they face every day. You will be able to hear from her in the video below. Tomorrow we will split up briefly. Stéphanie and Claude will leave very early in the morning to Athens, where they will meet another of our colleagues. I will stay behind for a few more meetings and then join my team in Greece. The next time we speak, we will have entered in the third and final part of our journey in Southern Europe. Cheers!

🇬🇷 7. Catching up with CCHN community members in Athens

Καλή μέρα from Stéphanie! We landed in Athens early in the morning after bidding a temporary goodbye to Maura, who is staying in Belgrade a little longer to have some more meetings. On the other hand, our colleague Dariha – who is a Research & Development Project Manager at CCHN – met us in Greece to join the last part of our journey. One of the best things about being in Athens was to finally meet in person some of the Community Members who attended our Peer Workshop last September. We had lunch together and chatted about their daily challenges as professionals working on migration issues. I am hoping I’ll see them again during the Advanced Professional Certificate which is taking place in a few weeks. In the video below you’ll also get a glimpse of Apostolos, who is a longstanding member of the CCHN Community, sharing some thoughts about the way the CCHN is helping him and his colleagues in their work. Our plan is to stay in Athens for a couple of days and then leave to the island of Lesvos, in the Aegean Sea. Lesvos is located only a few kilometers away from Turkey, which makes it a key entry point into Europe for many people on the move. We will certainly have lots to share from there. Τα λέμε σύντομα!

🇬🇷 8. Landing on the island of Lesvos, just kilometers away from Turkey

Hello CCHN! This is Maura here. We left Athens, Greece, and travelled to a small island in the Aegean Sea. It’s impressive: the island of Lesvos is so close to Turkey that we could clearly spot the Asian coast from the seaside. At least 20 people make the crossing from Turkey every week. Most of them are from Afghanistan, Syria and Congo; a third of them are usually children. We were allowed to visit Mavrovouni Reception Center and meet the professionals working in camp managament. We also met staff from Lesvos Solidarity, a local NGO providing support services to people on the move. Lesvos Solidarity used to run Pikpa Camp, the only locally-managed reception center, which has since been closed. We were really impressed by the professionalism of the humanitarian workers we met during the past two days, their resilience and their coordination mechanisms. We will be back in Greece in January to discuss more opportunities for us to support their work. In the meantime, watch the video below to get a quick snapshot of our time in Lesvos.

🇬🇷 9. Wrapping up our journey from the top of the Athens Acropolis

Γεια σου και πάλι! We have just come back to Athens, and we are talking to you from the very top of the Acropolis. We took the day to debrief and reflect, together, about all the stories, practices and lessons learned over the course of these two weeks along the Balkan route – before we all head home tomorrow. We are incredibly grateful to all the individuals and organizations who took the time to sit down with us, show us around, share their challenges and important moments of their daily work. We were able to gather a real wealth of information. We will turn this information into a case-study and use it as a basis to support frontline negotiators with new tools and methods. Our journey is not entirely over, though! Stéphanie will lead on an Advanced Professional Certificate taking place in Athens in the next few weeks, while Maura and Claude will return to the Balkans in January with students from Harvard University. If you’d like to know more, get in touch or visit our events page to sign up for one of our free workshops. We hope you liked traveling with us this month. It’s been great to read your comments and feel your presence along the way. See you on the next tour! Best, Claude, Dariha, Maura and Stéphanie

Questions? Comments?


Stéphanie Ferland

Negotiation Support Specialist – Europe [email protected]