By Bettina Etter, Program Officer, GPMD, SDC, Bern
An innovative project – a platform bringing together the different communities from Bosnia and Herzegovina - led by the BiH Diaspora in Switzerland is currently taking shape. This platform is being elaborated by a working group in Switzerland representing the different ethnic groups of BiH. During a conference held in Bern in December 2014, bringing together major BiH representatives in Switzerland for the first time, the study and the initial concept for this platform were presented, and the views of the BiH community were gathered to shape the future of the platform. The BiH Platform in Switzerland aims to link existing initiatives by diaspora organizations, civil society institutions and communities in BiH and will further facilitate interaction with government institutions in BiH. The need for a platform linking the different BiH communities was among the main recommendations stemming from a study on the BIH community in Switzerland.
This SDC supported diaspora initiative ultimately stems from efforts by the BiH Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees (MHRR) in strengthening its capacity to provide support to Bosnians living abroad in engaging in economic and social activities in their country of origin. Upon request by the MHRR of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland – SEM and SDC in collaboration with the University of Neuchâtel–supported the above mentioned study on the diaspora of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Switzerland, which yielded a mapping of the BiH diaspora in Switzerland, an assessment of the development potential of the BiH diaspora in their country of origin, and recommendations to strengthen diaspora engagement (links to Swiss mapping study in D,E,F and the assessment of diaspora engagement in BiH). SDC and partners in BiH support programs in favor of migration and development. Many of these, including the program “Mainstreaming the Concept of Migration and Development (M&D) into relevant Policies, Plans and Actions in BiH” include components on diaspora engagement, both with regards to framework conditions in the country of origin and those abroad, namely in Switzerland.