Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration

Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) is an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach to migration management aiming at orderly and humane return and reintegration of migrants who are unable or unwilling to remain in host or transit countries and wish to return voluntarily to their countries of origin.

The successful implementation of AVRR programmes requires the cooperation and participation of a broad range of actors, including the migrants, civil society and the governments in both host and transit countries and countries of origin. The partnerships created by IOM and a diverse range of national and international stakeholders are essential to the effective implementation of AVRR – from the return preparation to the reintegration stage.

Beneficiaries

For migrants who need to return home but lack the means to do so, IOM’s AVRR programmes are often the only solution to their immediate plight. Beneficiaries of IOM’s assistance include:

  • individuals whose application for asylum was rejected or withdrawn
  • stranded migrants
  • victims of trafficking, and
  • other vulnerable groups, including unaccompanied migrant children, or those with health-related needs.

Vision

As a core activity of IOM, AVRR activities provide vital assistance to thousands of migrants every year.  Building on experience and a world-wide network of offices and partners, IOM’s AVRR programmes promote international dialogue and cooperation on migration management issues among host and transit countries and countries of origin.

Objectives

IOM strives to support sustainable reintegration of migrants returning to a variety of contexts, recognizing, that the factors affecting the reintegration process and subsequently its sustainability are not dissimilar from those that resulted in the decision to migrate in the first place. IOM therefore asserts that reintegration can be considered sustainable when returnees have reached levels of economic self-sufficiency, social stability within their communities, and psychosocial well-being that allow them to cope with (re)migration drivers. Having achieved sustainable reintegration, returnees are able to make further migration decisions a matter of choice, rather than necessity. To achieve this objective, it is necessary to approach migrant reintegration in a comprehensive manner, considering the factors that can affect reintegration and addressing them in a way to respond to the needs of the individual returnees as well as the communities to which they return in a mutually beneficial way, and address the structural factors at play. Assistance to migrants, communities of return, and structural environments in countries of origin is therefore an essential element to ensuring sustainability of reintegration.

AVRR Activities

In host countries:

  • Awareness-raising for AVRR
  • Outreach and information dissemination to migrant communities, including referral systems to public services
  • Gathering of country-of-origin information
  • Profiling of diasporas
  • Individualized counselling on return and reintegration assistance, including country-of-origin information
  • Development of an individual post-arrival reintegration plan and skills training  
  • Specialized assistance and referral services to migrants in situations of vulnerability
  • Temporary accommodation
  • Facilitating travel documentation
  • Travel arrangements
  • Family tracing
  • Arrangement of escorts, if required.

In transit:

  • Assistance with travel in transit
  • Assistance with escort in transit, if required.

In countries of origin:

  • Assistance through immigration and customs on arrival at the airport
  • Post-arrival reception arrangements, including information and referral to local partners if necessary
  • Onward travel to the final destination
  • Short- and/or medium-term reintegration assistance (depending on the respective AVRR project and resources made available by donors), corresponding to economic, social, and psychosocial needs of the returnees, most often including business set-ups, vocational training, formal education, medical assistance and other forms of assistance, as well as
  • Capacity-building activities:
    • strengthening synergies between return and local development interventions
    • access to services
    • strengthening of local networks, and
    • improving local capacity to deliver reintegration assistance, also through supporting the establishment of national protection mechanisms and whole-of-government approaches to migrant assistance and protection.

IOM’s Approach

IOM is mandated by its Constitution to ensure orderly migration, inter alia, through voluntary return and reintegration assistance. In particular, IOM emphasizes that voluntariness remains a precondition for all its AVRR activities.

In line with its mandate, IOM’s key policy considerations when developing and implementing AVRR projects encompass: 

  • safeguarding dignity and rights of migrants in operating returns, while seeking adherence to applicable international principles and standards
  • preserving the integrity of regular migration structures and asylum procedures
  • enhancing dialogue and cooperation between origin, transit and host countries involved in the return process and reinforcing the responsibility of countries of origin towards their returning nationals
  • addressing, to the extent possible, the drivers of irregular migration  
  • advocating for the adoption of an integrated approach to return, including post-return reintegration assistance, and
  • working with national and international partners in both host country and country of origin, to promote international dialogue and implement capacity-building for AVRR initiatives.

The Global Compact for Migration

IOM is contributing thematic expertise to the preparatory process of the global compact for migration. Aiding that effort, IOM has published two thematic papers focused specifically on Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration.

These provide Member States and interested stakeholders with a succinct overview of the topic in question, and suggest possible areas of action for consideration as input into the global compact. All of IOM’s Thematic Papers on the 24 elements listed in ANNEX II of the New York Declaration are available here.