VIENNA--March 15 is World Social Work Day, which was celebrated in the framework of IFSW’s annual Social Work Symposium, this year entitled “Responding to the Refugee Crisis”. The symposium was facilitated by the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) in partnership with the Austrian Association of Social Workers (OBDS) and Younion (Austrian Trade Union).
Annually, social workers from around the world come together on World Social Work Day to discuss and highlight global issues. This year’s focus was the refugee crisis, bringing together social workers from 26 countries, particularly refugee War Countries (Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, etc.), Transfer Countries (Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Hungary etc.) and Asylum Countries (UK, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Norway, etc.).
The symposium aimed to develop a focused strategy to support particularly vulnerable groups, to establish a comprehensive strategy for political advocacy and to establish models of social work that can effectively support refugees in isolated situations and utilize the skills of social workers to develop inclusive and cohesive societies. The IFSW published a statement following the symposium, “Social Work Responding to The Political Crisis Forcing People into Displacement and Refugee Status,” underlining that the current refugee crisis is aresult of inadequate international political solidarity.
Armenia was represented at the symposium, and at a March 16 Austrian National Conference on emergency relief strategies by the Deputy Chair of AASW, Syuzanna Juharyan. At the symposium she presented an overview of the refugee situation in Armenia, underlining the specific circumstances of Syrian-Armenian refugees. She also highlighted the limited resources of social programs in Armenia, and lack of aid from in-country international organizations.
Despite the huge numbers of refugees seeking asylum in Europe and scare tactics in full force by the media, social workers from varied backgrounds are sure that the refugee crisis can be handled if there is proper political will and solidarity of European people.
More details and IFSW’s statement can be found here