Joining forces for health care

Eight million inhabitants living in ten border regions across four countries: this is the area supported by the Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine (HSRU) ENI CBC Programme, a largely rural environment, where a decreasing, aging population is troubled by a higher unemployment rate and a lower economic performance compared to the national averages. In border regions, people health status is in general less favourable than in central ones, particularly for the most impoverished categories. Socioeconomically precarious citizens are always the most vulnerable, but a big segment of the population at large does not lead a health-conscious lifestyle, neither seems aware of the role of prevention. All the more reason to invest in the development of health infrastructure, services, trainings programmes, prevention activities, general public awareness. That is why – when the 2014-2020 programming cycle started – the territorial cooperation between European countries and their neighbours decided to put the health care of inhabitants from the border regions among its priorities. It was crucial to devote cooperation efforts to improve the availability and level of health services and preventive activities, and since 2014 “we have supported the implementation of health projects with 12,3 million €  – says Nikoletta Horvàth, deputy head of the programme’s Managing Authority – which represent close to 20% of the total available funds”. 

Sport, food, cultural heritage: a tourist trail across the Bug river

Any river has duality built into it. Rivers can separate two shores, but also connect two coasts. Rivers can split two municipalities, regions or even countries; but they also bond communities curious enough to discover each other. This duality is very much true for the river Bug, as for more than 360 kilometres – out of its 778 km total length – it is the border between EU (Poland) and its neighbours (Ukraine and Belarus).

When autism opens arms to refugees

Artiom is two weeks old and sleeps peacefully in his cot. The baby refugee was born on March 24 in Poland, at the “Center for the assistance to autistic children and youth” of Biala Podlaska. Warm clothing, mild detergents, and the soothing embrace of his mother, Artiom has everything he needs so far in life. But his arrival into this world could have been very different…

Holding on to a partnership

Regular work plans have been blown up: the war in Ukraine has overturned the rail of cross-border cooperation in the East. But how have projects reacted? What have they decided to do, and how? This is the first of a series of reportages – including videos, pictures, and interviews – on the response of the ENI CBC community to the crisis unleashed by the Russian assault on Ukraine. Because for one neighbour attacking another, there is a third one opening the border to save the fleeing women and children. And we start precisely in Poland with SOSRescue, a project originally planned to train mountain rescuers, and suddenly thrown into the emergency by supporting a population on the run.  

When working is more than just a job

“Together with our partners, across the Mediterranean we all face the same issues regarding refugees, or about the unemployment rate of low skilled, poorly educated people. We all have common problems and we are in search of common best practices, to be adapted to our conditions.”

Imad Ibrik, Project Coordinator, An-Najah National University (Palestine)

Boosting heritage potential to create culture

“The touristic potential of our region is far greater than the flow of tourists that comes to us. We keep losing opportunities because the region has an underdeveloped tourist infrastructure.” 

Krzysztof Michalski, representative of the lead beneficiary (Poland)

Enhancing traditions to revitalize tourism in lower Danube

The paradox is that tourists come to see the Danube Delta, but do not see the local culture. We want to create a cultural hub and keep tourists longer. The infrastructure we are creating will continue to be used for fairs, festivals and workshops in our region.

Leonid Artamon, Consilier, Serviciul de Accesare Fonduri Externe Consiliul Judetean Tulcea (Romania)

Breaking barriers in children rehabilitation

A holistic approach and an early intervention can change a child’s future. Children with psychomotor disorders, psychiatric or behavioural issues often show a complex of symptoms that need to be addressed as soon as possible and from different points of view. However, it is not easy. Parents are afraid of the diagnosis; they do not recognise some of the symptoms as relevant or they get lost in the vast amount of information. As a result, these children are often left out of the system and then it may be too late. That’s what the BREAK project is changing in the Lithuania-Russia cross-border region: breaking the barriers in children rehabilitation, creating a safe place where they can be orienteered and treated from different perspectives, where they benefit from early diagnosis and intervention. In a word, trying to offer them a better future.

The green economy potential to engage marginalised youth

In recent years, the transition from education to work has become more prolonged and unpredictable. In fact, due to different and successive crises, many young people find themselves neither in employment nor in education and training (NEET).  And youth with little or no education is highly marginalised, and increasingly far from jobs. At the same time, there is still an unexploited potential in green economy: environment protection can provide the base for new work opportunities. Combining these two fields – the social and the environmental – is the purpose of the RESMYLE project, which aims at the socio-professional integration of young people into the job market.

When Art is the key to vulnerable kids

They come mostly from rural areas, and they are vulnerable children: they have slight intellectual disabilities, motion or neurological disorders, behavioural and emotional problems. They come from social-risk, or refugee families. And now, after experiencing exclusion and isolation, they can go back to an active social life, thanks to painting, sculpture, music. Because art therapy makes miracles. It happens across the borders between Lithuania and Belarus.

CULTURE OPEN – Speaking the unique language of culture

“Culture is probably the best way to integrate migrants and people with disabilities in our cities. There is no need to speak. People usually dance and sing about the same things. Culture is the best way to reach someone’s heart and build trust”. Migrants and people with disabilities are two quite different types of groups. They have different needs and concerns. However, they often face the same challenges: the feeling of isolation, feeling unheard or not integrated in society. Culture Open is a project, financed under ENI CBC Karelia programme, that aims at engaging socially vulnerable groups in the cities of Petrozavodsk (RU) and Joensuu (FI) by making them feel the protagonists in the cultural life of the cities.

Flippers and diving masks to enjoy the underwater museum of the Black Sea

Vessels, buildings, statues, artefacts, sites, even human remains: this is all “underwater cultural heritage”, defined by UNESCO as human traces with cultural, historical or archaeological character, that have been under water for at least 100 years. Definitely, a heritage worth preserving and object of interest for the most curious minds. The ENI CBC TREASURE project has put the underwater remains of the Black Sea Basin at the centre of its efforts. The initiative – financed under the ENI CBC Black Sea Basin programme – focuses on fascinating sub-aquatic archaeological rests, and offers a unique experience as an alternative to traditional tourism.

TEC-MED: No elderly alone

In the Mediterranean, elderly people have been particularly hit by COVID-19. The media attention has been much riveted to them but mostly as a risk group on a medical level. Isolated and lonely more than ever due to social distancing and confinement, in this unprecedented period they eminently need adequate care, both social and psychological. Emotional support, social involvement, scientific research: tackling the pandemic, an EU-funded project TEC-MED develops solutions to find some relief for older people.