The workshop on "Managing Return Migration" was held in the framework of IOM’s International Dialogue on Migration (IDM) which in 2008 has an overall theme of "Return Migration: Challenges and Opportunities".

The IDM was launched in 2001 to provide an informal forum for IOM Member and Observer States as well as international and non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders for the exchange of perspectives and experiences on migration matters with a view to identifying practical solutions and fostering greater interstate cooperation.


Return migration has progressively been attracting the attention of policy-makers and other stakeholders involved in migration issues both as migration trends move toward more temporary patterns and as governmental policy interest increasingly focuses on the need to ensure the protection of rights and dignity of individuals. However, return is rarely approached in a holistic manner or analysed in the broader context of migration management. Moreover, perspectives on return and even its definition differ from country to country, often depending on their migration histories. There is a need to explore the issue of return from a more comprehensive perspective, including in terms of its role in contemporary migration dynamics, patterns and policy; the reasons for and impediments to return; different circumstances under which return migration occurs and its diverse forms; the human rights of migrants; and the policy and programmatic actions stakeholders can take to facilitate safe dignified return migration, particularly in the context of a collaborative effort.

The main objectives of the workshop were:

  • To bring together governments and other relevant stakeholders to share experiences pertaining to return migration and to stimulate discussion on existing practices, highlighting the diverse and yet complementary management perspectives of countries of origin, transit and destination with a view to reconcile and balance the diverse interests and concerns of all migration stakeholders as well as to enhance cooperative migration management approaches.
  • To bring forward and highlight key issues that would form part of comprehensive return migration approaches as well as to address the relationship between migration and other policy domains such as development, trade, human rights and health.
  • To provide the IOM membership with the opportunity to discuss return migration management in depth and to identify effective means for and successful approaches to managing return in a safe, dignified and sustainable manner.
21 April 2008 - Day I
09:00 - 10:00 Registration
10:00 - 10:15

Welcome Remarks

  • Jill Helke, Executive Officer, IOM
10:15 - 10:45 Setting the Scene: Understanding Return Migration
  • Michele Klein Solomon, Director, Migration Policy, Research and Communications, IOM (Bio / Presentation)

General Discussion

10:45 - 13:00 Session I: Return Migration in the Framework of Comprehensive Migration Management

Moderator: Philippe Boncour, Head, International Dialogue on Migration Division, IOM (Bio)


  • Rob Visser, Director General, WIAV, Ministry of Justice, the Netherlands (Speech)
  • Arturo Cabrera, Under Secretary for International Migration Policy, National Secretariat for Migrants, Ecuador (Bio / Presentation)
  • Anna Semou Faye, Director of  Air and Border Control Police, Senegal (Bio)

General Discussion

13:00 - 14:00 Afternoon Break
14:00 - 15:00 Side-event: "Strengthening Reception Capacity for Boat Arrivals: Cases of Lampedusa/Sicily"

At the request of and in collaboration with the Government of Italy, IOM, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Italian Red Cross (CRI) have worked together to support Italy in responding to the arrivals of large numbers of irregular migrants to the island of Lampedusa and other locations in Sicily. Among other activities, these agencies assist in providing information and counselling to the migrants and conducting pre-screening with respect to various categories of migrants (economic migrants, asylum seekers, victims of trafficking, unaccompanied minors, etc.) in order to identify persons in need of special assistance and to ensure they are referred for appropriate procedures or structures which address their specific needs. Drawing on this experience, representatives of the Government of Italy, the Italian Red Cross, UNHCR and IOM will highlight the merits and challenges of collaborative efforts to address the complex migration management issues which arise in Lampedusa/Sicily and which may be relevant for other boat arrival contexts.

Moderator: Peter Schatzer, Regional Representative for the Mediterranean, Chief of Mission for Italy and Malta, IOM


  • Adriano Benedetti, Director General for Italians Abroad and Migration Policies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy (Bio
  • Gebremedhin Ghebreigzabiher,, Head of the Central Migration Office, Italian Red Cross
  • Andreas Wissner, Senior Legal Officer, Bureau for Europe, UNHCR Geneva (Presentation)
  • Simona Moscarelli, Legal Expert, IOM Rome (Bio / Presentation)

General Discussion

15:00 - 18:00 Session II: Contextualizing Return - Case Studies

Moderator: Mr. Fatih Ulusoy, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN, Geneva


  • Marieke Kleiboer, Director in the International Cooperation Branch, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Australia (Bio / Presentation)
  • Françoise Tapsoba Sanou, Secretary General of the Ministry of Social Action, Burkina Faso (Presentation)
  • João Fortuna Pessela, Chief of Department, Institute for Support to Emigration and the Angolan Communities Abroad, Ministry of Exterior, Angola (Bio / Speech)
  • Mónica Vargas López, Deputy Director for Monitoring and Follow- up, General Direction for Child Protection, DIF (Family and Child Protection) (Bio / Presentation / Speech)
  • Luca Riccardi, Special Counsellor for International Migration of the Italian Minister of Interior, Italy (Bio / Presentation

General Discussion

22 April 2008 - Day II
10:00 - 13:00 Session III: Managing Return Migration when Entry or Stay is not Authorized

Moderator: David Knight, Head, Technical Cooperation Division, Migration Management Services Department, IOM (Bio)


  • Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Cambodia (Bio / Presentation)
  • Laurence Hart, Chief of Mission, IOM, Libya ( Bio / Presentation) / Hussin Y.B. Maghadmi, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
  • Klemens Kittelmann, Counsellor, Federal Ministry of Interior, Germany
  • John Bingham, Head of Policy, International Catholic Migration Commission, Switzerland (Bio / Speech)

General Discussion

13:00 - 15:00 Afternoon Break
15:00 - 17:50 Session IV: Towards a Cooperative Approach to Return  Migration

Moderator: Karim Ghezraoui, Head Groups in Focus Unit, Special Procedures Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (Bio)


  • Ángel Edmundo Orellana, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honduras (Bio / Presentation - English / Presentation - Spanish)
  • Urs von Arb, Head of the Repatriation Division, Federal Office for Migration, Switzerland (Bio / Speech
  • Ben Svasti, TRAFCORD (NGO), Thailand (Bio / Presentation)
  • Chrysantus Ache, Representative, UNHCR, Sudan (Bio / Presentation) / Mario Tavolaj, Chief of Mission, IOM, Sudan
  • Denis Vène, Ambassador for Migration, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, France (Speech) / Martha Breeze, Deputy Director, Head of Voluntary Return Unit, ANAEM, Paris (Speech)

General Discussion

17:50 - 18:00 Wrap-up and Closing Remarks
  • Brunson McKinley, Director General, IOM
  • Michele Klein Solomon, Director, Migration Policy, Research and Communications, IOM

End of the Workshop

Related documents

Lampedusa/Sicily Side-Event: Reading List

Relevant IOM Publications

Event documents