Zagreb, 25th September 2017 – this Monday in the Croatian parliament the director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, JRS Tvrtko Barun received the European citizen’s prize which the European Parliament gives out for outstanding achievements to individuals and associations striving towards the promotion of European values and identity.
The award is intended to acknowledge outstanding achievements in promoting better mutual understanding and stronger connections of citizens of the member states as well as easing inter and transnational collaboration within European Union and is given to individuals or associations from every member state in the EU. The right to propose candidates for the European Citizen’s Prize is reserved exclusively for members of the European Parliament and each member can propose one candidate per year. The director Barun’s candidature was proposed by EP member Dubravka Šuica.
In his speech Barun looked back upon his work in the camp during the refugee crisis and invited Croatian society to exhibit solidarity once more towards people who, fleeing from wars and violence, come to Croatia. “In order to integrate refugees what is needed is trust. Put that trust in people who are looking for protection and safety in our country.”
Donya Spanta, an asylum seeker who has been living in the Reception centre for asylum seekers in Dugave for the last 14 months, shared her experience as a refugee with those gathered at the ceremony. She stated how a lot of things within the asylum system leave deep marks regarding a refugee’s quality of life, but that she has managed to find friends in Croatia who offer support on a daily basis.