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IOM assists over 10,000 migrants with voluntary return from Greece to their home countries
Athens – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has completed a long-running Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration project in Greece and announced the opening of new programme, which will run for 52 months starting from 01 September 2023.
Through the project “The implementation of Assisted Voluntary Returns including reintegration measures and operation of Open Center in the prefecture of Attica for Applicants of Voluntary Returns” (AVRR - OCAVRR)” IOM assisted 10,920 migrants to return voluntarily to their countries of origin from September 2019 until August 2023. IOM also helped 2,860 people to implement their reintegration plans upon arrival during this time.
2,520 of the returnees were accommodated at the Open Centre for migrants registered for assisted voluntary return and reintegration (OCAVRR), a facility that provides accommodation to migrants in situations of vulnerability or who have specific needs but no place to stay until they return to their country of origin.
“IOM Greece implements AVRR projects in close collaboration with the Government of Greece, the European Commission, national and diplomatic authorities. These efforts have contributed to returnees reaching levels of economic self-sufficiency, social stability within their communities, and psychosocial well-being for sustainable reintegration,” said Gianluca Rocco, Chief of IOM’s Mission in Greece.
IOM together with its committed partners has provided critical assistance to migrants wishing to return home in a safe and dignified manner over the last four years despite the challenges posed by COVID-19
“We are proud to continue this initiative which has proven to contribute to effective, humane, and orderly migration management, benefiting both migrants and society at large,” Rocco added.
In the framework of the project, voluntarily returning migrants received return and reintegration counseling prior to their departure from Greece, flight tickets, support on the issuance of travel documents, pre-departure assistance at the airport, a one-time cash grant to address their basic needs upon arrival in the country of origin, transit assistance and reception assistance upon arrival in cases of need.
Reintegration assistance provided by IOM is based on migrants’ needs, special skills, and preferences. Reintegration assistance was provided in kind and in collaboration with the IOM offices in countries of origin. Beneficiaries of the assistance were supported with income generation activities including start-up of micro business and/or vocational training, temporary accommodation, medical support, material assistance, and other types of assistance.
“After three years in Greece, I decided to return to Georgia with the assistance of IOM. We decided to restart our old family bakery shop and the purchase of bakery supplies and equipment from IOM, was crucial in reopening our small business,” said Tatia, who returned home in October last year.
IOM also conducted a monitoring survey, which measured the social and psychological dimensions of reintegration under the project. The majority of returnees who implemented reintegration plans responded that they felt satisfied with access to public services such as health, housing, justice and reinserted into their personal support networks such as friends, relatives and neighbors.
IOM in Greece plays an important role globally in the implementation of the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programmes. Since 2010, it has assisted more than 59,000 third-country nationals to return to their countries of origin. At the same time, it has helped more than 11,000 returnees complete personalized reintegration plans to help support themselves, their families, and the local community.
The project implemented between September 2019 and August 2023 was co-funded 75% by European Funds (Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund) and 25% by Greek National Funds.
**IOM does not support voluntary returns to the Syrian Arab Republic, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Sudan at this stage.
For more information, please contact:
IOM Greece, Christine Nikolaidou, firstname.lastname@example.org