Switzerland supports BiH in managing diaspora potential

Press release, 16.05.2017

Switzerland and Bosnia and Herzegovina signed today a Memorandum of Understanding for the continuation of the project Mainstreaming the Concept of Migration and Development into Strategies, Policies and Actions in BiH – Diaspora for Development (D4D). On behalf of both countries, the Memorandum was signed by the Swiss Ambassador to BiH Andrea Rauber Saxer and Semiha Borovac, BiH Minister for Human Rights and Refugees, with Sezin Sinanoglu, UNDP Resident Representative for BiH, and Radmila Urošević, Acting Head of IOM Mission, on behalf of the organisations that will implement the project.

Diaspora Migration © FDFA
Signing of the MoU for D4D project © FDFA

Recognising the potential of cooperation with the large BiH diaspora around the world, as well as the obstacles it faces, the Swiss Government supports local institutions, especially the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina (MHRR) and its efforts to improve the relations and links with the diaspora. The Migration and Development project aims to improve cooperation with the diaspora, respecting mutual needs at that, as well as adequately mainstream the potential, experiences, know-how, skills and investments from the diaspora. Project partners are the MHRR, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of BiH, 15 municipalities across the country, as well as the UNDP and IOM, the organisations implementing the project in BiH.

In Switzerland alone live around 60,000 people originating from BiH, who still nurture relations with their motherland. “Migrations pose a particular challenge to BiH. A large part of the population already lives abroad, and every year, many more citizens are leaving. We would like to encourage the diaspora and the municipalities from where they are to work towards the development of their local communities together. This is why it is of vital importance to have good border management, recognise the diaspora potential and allow everyone who wants to invest skills and money in their homeland to be just as welcome,” Swiss Ambassador Andrea Rauber Saxer stated at the occasion.

Ten municipalities and seven cantons have incorporated the concept of migration and development into their policies and plans so far. The municipalities adapted their organisational structure, nine of them appointed contact persons for the diaspora, and one municipality even opened an office for communication with the diaspora. Interaction with the diaspora has facilitated the generation of 70 new jobs and increased the income of 430 households through agriculture. Over the next four years, a strategy will be adopted and a database will be created on the profile of the diaspora in ten countries with the highest number of BiH emigrants, which will be published on a single web portal for the diaspora and local authorities – from the local to the state level. Further work will be done to create better possibilities for the transfer of knowledge and investments from the diaspora, identify opportunities and cooperate with the private sector in BiH, which will consequently prevent labour force drain from BiH. Fifteen municipalities will receive support for the strategic planning of cooperation with the diaspora and provision of services to the diaspora.

“I would like to congratulate the MHRR for their strategic outlook on migration. With this approach we can turn a problem into an opportunity”, Ambassador Rauber Saxer said.