On July 2nd to July 6th 2018 HAART in partnership with the Better Migration Management (BMM) project in specific GIZ and Expertise France convened the second Regional CSO Forum on safe and fair migration. The first of its kind was held in 2017 and its main focus was coalition building. In 2018 the main focus shifted to protection of victims of trafficking and vulnerable migrants. Just like in 2017, 2018 saw a consultant who is well versed with coalitions especially of organizations in counter trafficking facilitate the forum. Helen Sworn is the founder of Chab Dai which is a very successful coalition of counter trafficking organizations in Cambodia. She also has vast experience in protection work.

The first day kicked off with a little icebreaker for the participants to bond and relax. Just like last year, this year also had participants from the East and Horn of Africa so most of the participants knew each other from last year apart from a few new organizations that were invited. Unfortunately this year Burundi and Rwanda did not make it because the BMM project does not cover the two countries. However, we are glad to report that from offsite conversations with the participants from Burundi and Rwanda show that they benefited from the 2017 forum and it encouraged their counter trafficking work.

We had a recap of the 2017 forum and country presentations from the different countries represented. It was refreshing to see that organizations actually worked together. Helen shared her experience building Chab Dai. She also got the participants to do an activity on organizational network analysis, country network analysis and regional network analysis. This was quite an intriguing exercise which saw the participants engage each other with country maps showing which organizations work in what part of their country and what exactly they do, to regional mapping showing the trafficking routes in the region. This gave a pictorial representation on how to work together and reinforced coalitions. That day ended with an away dinner for the participants to relax.

The following day we picked up on the theme of the forum. This started with a presentation from IOM on a handbook they are developing on protection. It was then proceeded by best practice presentations from three different organizations from different countries. This was to set up the tone for discussion on principles of practice in this field. The goal was to have these principles of practice as discussed and agreed upon by the participants and have it as a working document. There was a panel discussion on principles of practice. The afternoon of this day saw participants break into working groups to discuss more and input on the principles of practice in different thematic areas. The thematic areas were case management, shelters and access to justice. The discussions in the different groups was then shared to the whole group and it input into the principles of practice document.

Thursday 5th of July saw the discussion on the principles of practice continue and eventually finalized in the context of the forum. The participants then signed on the document as a way of showing that they agree and were involved in coming up with the principles. The future goal is to present the document to a regional governing body and see whether it could be adopted at that level. This day also saw a presentation by the organization Liberty Asia on case management. Liberty Asia has developed a system that can be used in case management which Willow International, HAART Kenya and Chab Dai were already using. They offered the system to the rest of the participants for anyone interested which is a plus for case management. We later did an evaluation for the forum by allowing the participants to give feedback in an anonymous way and thereafter officially closed the forum as the following day participants were living for their countries.

In total 41 organizations from 8 countries participated in the highly successful regional forum. There was also a product which is the principles of practice document which we are hoping to see it go further than regional forum and stir up more discussions in the different countries as well as contextualized application.

By Phyllis Mburu