The implementation of assisted voluntary returns including reintegration measures and operation of Open Center in the Prefecture of Attica for applicants of voluntary return (AVRR/OCAVRR)
Funded 75% by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union (AMIF) and 25% by the Hellenic Ministry of Citizen Protection
The implementation of assisted voluntary returns including reintegration measures (AVRR)
IOM defines AVRR as the “administrative, logistical or financial support, including reintegration assistance, to migrants unable or unwilling to remain in the host country who volunteer to return to their countries of origin.” (IOM Glossary on Migration, 2019) and it is an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach to migration management aiming at their orderly and humane return and reintegration to their countries of origin. AVRR project is a core activity of IOM and has provided vital assistance to tens of thousands of migrants returning to their countries of origin every year, for the last four decades. The decision of returning home is 100% voluntary and based on migrant’s request. AVRR project has been at the heart of IOM's commitments to protect migrant's rights while ensuring the voluntariness of every return encompasses two elements, freedom of choice and an informed decision, which is taken upon the availability of timely, unbiased and reliable information.
Facilitating dignified voluntary return: AVRR procedure contains information and pre-departure counselling sessions, assistance to obtain all appropriate documents (e.g. travel documents), air tickets and assist the individuals at the airport. Greece is in close cooperation with IOM offices in transit countries and countries of origin in order to assist the beneficiaries after their arrival.
What is reintegration: Reintegration is generally understood as a multidimensional process enabling individuals to re-establish the economic, social and psychosocial relationships needed to maintain life, livelihood and dignity, and achieve inclusion in civic life. ΙΟΜ asserts that reintegration support can only be successful if there is a level of re-inclusion across all dimensions. At the individual level, the specific needs of beneficiaries should be covered and support for these provided upon return. The notions of return and reintegration are intimately interlinked with that of sustainability. "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 as a matter of choice, rather than necessity.” (Towards an integrated approach to reintegration in the context of return, IOM, 2017)
Beneficiaries of AVRR are informed by specialized personnel and cultural mediators, in order to follow personalized reintegration plans, based on their needs. AVRR project is implemented in cooperation with IOM offices, located in origin countries and benefit the returnees, the local societies and the reception countries.
Types of reintegration assistance may include setting up a small business (individually or in partnership), training programmes, temporary accommodation, psychosocial/legal support, medical and material assistance, job placement, etc.
Who can participate in AVRR:
1. Third-country nationals who have not yet received a final negative decision on their application for stay, legal residence and/or international protection as foreseen for them in a member state and who may opt for the voluntary return option;
2. Third-country nationals who have been granted the right of stay, legal residence and/or international protection as defined by the EU Directive 2011/95 or temporary protection as defined by the EC Directive 2001/55 in a member state and who have chosen to opt for voluntary return;
3. Third-country nationals present in a member state who no longer meet the entry or stay prerequisites in a member state, whose removal has been postponed in accordance with Articles 9 and 14, paragraph 1 of Directive 2008/115/EC.
Special care and priority are extended to beneficiaries that are in a situation of vulnerability including but not limited to unaccompanied migrant children, migrants with health needs, single-parent families, trafficking victims, elderly, etc.
Voluntary returns to Albania and Northern Macedonia are not implemented.
What is the role of Greece: IOM Greece plays a crucial role in AVRR’s world map. Since 2010, more than 48,649 individuals have been assisted to return voluntarily to their home with safety and dignity and through the contribution of IOM Greece. Furthermore, IOM Greece has supported over 8,240 migrants to successfully complete personalized reintegration plans in terms of sustainability for themselves and their families.
Open Centre for Migrants registered for Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (OCAVRR)
An Open Centre for migrants registered for assisted voluntary return and reintegration is established near the center of Athens in order to provide shelter to migrants in Greece who have registered with IOM Greece’s “The Implementation of assisted voluntary returns including reintegration measures and operation of Open Center in the prefecture of Attica for applicants of voluntary return” project and who have no place to stay until their departure. The Open Centre is situated among hospitals, embassies of third countries and very near to the underground and bus stations.
Beneficiaries are migrants who are experiencing certain situations of vulnerability or specific needs, defined for the purpose of the project as:
- single-parent families
- pregnant women
- migrants with health needs
- elderly migrants
- destitute migrants
The Open Centre provides services of vital nature to migrants in situation of vulnerability until they return to the country of origin with dignity, such as:
- A safe place for staying
- Three meals per day from catering services
- NFIs (amenities, sanitary items and clothes)
- Hot individual showers 24/7
- Free laundry rooms
- A recreation room with TV, Blu-Ray, Wi-Fi and telephone
- Cleaning services
- Security services
- Medical services and psychosocial support