A TEAM comprised of people from a refugee camp and a multicultural team faced each other in a football match on Bratislava’s Primate’s Square on June 20 to mark World Refugee Day. The match was intended to highlight problems that refugees face in Slovakia as well as to point to the difficult lives of people who have to leave their homelands.

“More often than not, they come from third-world countries; that is, they’re people of different races and face racial prejudices in Slovakia,” said Sergio Danilov, who presents a campaign called Sport Unites – Different Colours, One Game, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “There’s a reserved or perhaps even negative attitude towards diversity.”

In the match, people from a refugee camp in Rohovce (Trnava Region) played against the Different Colours United team, comprised of both Slovaks and foreign nationals. The latter team plays in an amateur football league in Bratislava. The event was followed by an umbrella march to Hviezdoslavovo Square, where, among other performances, a short theatrical performance depicting a day in the life of a refugee was shown.

In Žilina, 15 people from Afghanistan, Erithrea and Somalia walked the streets with umbrellas, pointing to their difficult circumstances. A discussion about their everyday life in Slovakia followed, along with a tasting of exotic specialties and a photo exhibition.

“Our culture is not open towards refugees yet,” social worker of the Marginal civic association in Žilina Roman Bartoš said, adding that this is why they try to initiate a debate about the integration of people from developing countries.

He said that in their homelands, different types of conflicts are raging and Slovakia represents a safe haven.

“For them, Europe is like a mythical continent where everyone is doing well,” Bartoš told TASR, adding that sometimes they simply want to settle in a prosperous European country. But if they find access in the labour market or in education, they become integrated and remain in Slovakia, feeling happy and safe, without fearing for their life.

In Košice, the Srdce na Dlani (Heart on One’s Sleeve) event on June 21 presented “a trip around the world in one day”. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) together with representatives of immigrants’ communities from India, Thailand, Russia, Ukraine and Peru presented the customs of their homelands, offering national rhythms, Latin American dances, the cuisines of India, Peru and Thailand and a celebration of the Indian holiday of lights, Diwali.

In the Trixen Wake&Ski Park at the Above the Lake housing estate in Košice, IOM fostered connections between immigrants and local inhabitants.