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ERC´s Refugee Forum Commences Operations

The Refugee Forum, launched in April, started work on 20 June, World Refugee Day. Initiated by the Estonian Refugee Council, this representative body for international protection recipients supports individuals with refugee backgrounds in advocating for their communities and addressing their concerns.

According to Marion Tamberg, Head of the Community Programme at the Estonian Refugee Council, the Refugee Forum is a way for participants to actively shape their futures. “People with refugee backgrounds have the best understanding of their communities’ needs and problems. Working together with them allows us to find relevant and effective solutions, ultimately empowering refugee communities and strengthening society as a whole.”

Tamberg highlighted that the Estonian Refugee Council supports the social inclusion of people with refugee backgrounds beyond Estonia as well: “We are running a community council programme in Georgia, through which we empower internally displaced persons and refugees to stand up for their rights. Based on the experience in Georgia, we saw that such initiatives can also support refugee communities in Estonia.”

The Estonian Refugee Forum consists of 20 members who have taken an active role in advocating for their community's interests and wish to be involved in decision-making processes that affect them. The application process for the Refugee Forum was conducted through an open competition, and all recipients of international protection in Estonia were eligible to apply. “There was significant interest in the competition, and as a result, the newly selected forum has broad representation: members come from across Estonia and various backgrounds,” said Tamberg. She added that forum members will receive training on advocacy and engagement, as well as skills for implementing changes. Members will then meet regularly to address and map the needs and problems of refugees and work with the Estonian Refugee Council to find solutions.

The Estonian Refugee Forum is supported by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

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