72,000 Voluntary Returns Globally Last Year
Today (10/07), IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reported that 72,176 migrants returned home voluntarily in 2017 with the organization’s support, through Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programmes. Key trends and figures are highlighted in IOM’s latest report: Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration 2017 Key Highlights.
The number of migrants assisted in their voluntary returns represents a 27 per cent decrease as compared to 2016, when 98,403 migrants were provided with return and reintegration support. This decrease was mainly due to a lower volume of voluntary returns from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, which nevertheless remained the region from which the largest proportion of beneficiaries returned.
It should be noted, however, that the number of AVRR beneficiaries in 2017 remained significantly higher than those recorded in the 2005-2015 period and should therefore be regarded as having gone “back to normal” after an exceptional year.
AVRR beneficiaries in 2017 returned from 124 countries to 165 countries and territories of origin. Germany remained the top host country (41 per cent of the total) and Albania remained the top country of origin, despite a 54 per cent decrease and a 60 per cent decrease respectively.
Nearly one third of the migrants assisted by IOM’s AVRR programmes were female; a quarter of them were children.
Of the total assisted, 3,331 were identified as being in vulnerable situations, namely: migrants with health-related needs (48 per cent), victims of trafficking (34 per cent) and unaccompanied migrant children (18 per cent).
Some trends observed in 2016 were also confirmed last year, such as the increasing number of voluntary returns from transit countries (for instance, from Greece or Niger) and the increasing number of intraregional returns, particularly within the Middle East and the African continent.
The AVRR 2017 Key Highlights report also showcases some of IOM’s most significant global initiatives for the year 2017. These include the recent conceptualization of IOM’s integrated approach to reintegration in the context of return and the development of indicators to better measure reintegration outcomes, which are finding concrete application within the framework of the EU-IOM External Actions in Support of Migrant Protection and Reintegration.
The report also shows that in 2017, IOM continued to make returnees’ voices better heard, by promoting avenues and tools for returnees and their communities to share their stories.
“The initiatives put in place last year illustrate IOM’s commitment towards further enhancing the nature and the quality of voluntary return and reintegration support provided to returnees,” said Anh Nguyen, Head of IOM’s Migrant Protection and Assistance Division. “As underlined in recent discussions on the upcoming Global Compact for Migration, there is a need to facilitate voluntary return and foster sustainable reintegration of returnees in their communities through the creation of conditions for personal safety, economic empowerment, inclusion and social cohesion.”