Latvian NGOs tell migrants’ stories

A website to promote the integration of migrants into Latvian civil society has been launched by the NGOs Providus and Asylum Safe House (Patvērums ‘Droša māja’), newswire BNS learned from project representative Laura Bužinska Wednesday.

The site, which has been up since Tuesday, already features stories told by immigrants to Latvia from Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, Kirghizstan and China who have been living here for longer periods of time.

Aleksey Anisimov, who is from Russia but teaches law in Riga, believes a platform where migrants can tell their own life stories and how they came to be living in Latvia is an essential way to reduce prejudice against them. According to Bužinska, the idea came from following public discussions over the immigration issue and the EU’s mulling of refugee quotas for member states, which Latvia and other countries are positioning themselves to fight in favor of other forms of solidarity.

The groups are inviting migrants residing legally in Latvia for more than one year to send in their stories in Latvian, Russian and English telling what brought them here, how they are living and to share in some of their challenges and experiences in either written, photographic or video formats.

Previous campaigns meant to foster favorable public opinion toward immigrants and refugees have engaged local celebrities as spokespersons rather than the foreigners themselves.

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