Migrant Voluntary Return and Reintegration Assistance Suspended in Mali 

West African migrants undergo screening by IOM staff in a migrant centre in Bamako. Photo: IOM

Bamako – IOM Mali has temporarily suspended assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) services for roughly 1,500 migrants to better assess their eligibility after evidence surfaced suggesting that attempts were being made to take advantage of this service. 

“We came to realize there was the potential for our humanitarian efforts to be exploited by people who were not entitled to assistance,” said Michele Bombassei, IOM’s migrant protection and assistance specialist for West and Central Africa. “That undermines IOM’s ability to help truly vulnerable migrants who meet eligibility criteria.” 

“We are reviewing hundreds of pending AVRR cases at our ad-hoc transit centres in Bamako and will resume our efforts once we are satisfied that the assistance is being provided to the people who are most in need,” Bombassei added. 

Since its launch in December 2016, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration (Joint Initiative) has provided return and reintegration assistance to over 51,000 people stranded along the migratory routes from West and Central Africa to North Africa and Europe. Vulnerable migrants like these can request IOM’s assistance to return home in a voluntary, dignified and humane manner, and once there, access reintegration support. 

In mid-November 2018, the IOM mission in Mali noticed an unprecedented peak in the number of returnees requesting help that did not match the typical flows of people across the Malian borders with Algeria and Mauritania. 

In early January the Organization advised migrants sheltered at Bamako transit centres that their applications were being thoroughly reviewed to ensure they meet the Joint Initiative’s eligibility requirements. 

IOM is working closely with the Malian Government, civil society and representatives from the relevant countries of origin to address the situation and ensure available resources are allocated to protect the most vulnerable. 

IOM has four decades of experience managing AVRR programmes. Since the launch of the Joint Initiative in Mali in 2017, IOM has assisted 9,768 West African migrants mainly from Mali, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, the Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. 

For more information, please contact Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Tel: +221786206213, Email: