Over 8,000 migrants assisted with voluntary return from Greece in last 3 years: IOM

Lena Beradze from Georgia received reintegration support after choosing to return to her home country through Greece AVRR support.

Athens - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has supported the voluntary return of some 8,000 people from Greece to their home countries since the September 2019 launch of the current Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme.

The returnees originated from 46 countries, with the largest percentage from Pakistan and Georgia (54 per cent), followed by Iraq (16 per cent) and Iran (4 per cent).

“IOM continues its cooperation with national authorities to offer vital assistance and reintegration support to migrants - especially for those in vulnerable situations - who wish to return home,” said Gianluca Rocco, Chief of the IOM Mission in Greece. “We are proud to have continued this programme despite the mobility restrictions that hampered voluntary returns during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Through the programme over 1,200 migrants in situations of vulnerability - including migrants with health needs, victims of human trafficking, unaccompanied and separated migrant children, the older people, and single-parent families – were able to return to their home countries, according to international principles, in safety and dignity.

Vulnerable populations had their protection needs timely identified, assessed, and addressed throughout the return continuum and benefited from reintegration support.

Upon return, over 2,300 migrants were able to enhance their reintegration through the additional assistance offered by the program, through vocational training, job placements, medical support, in-kind assistance and business startup. A cash grant was also provided to cover the returnees’ initial needs after arriving in their home country.

Prior to their departure from Greece, nearly 2,000 migrants who applied for AVRR had the opportunity to access temporary accommodation at the Open Centre for Migrants registered for Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (OCAVRR). The Open Center, which is located near central Athens allows vulnerable beneficiaries to complete the necessary procedures in a very short and cost-effective manner. The Open Centre is under the authority of Reception and Identification Service of the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum and has been operated by IOM since 2015, providing temporary accommodation to over 7,000 AVRR applicants.

ΙΟΜ in Greece has been implementing Assisted Voluntary Returns and Reintegration (AVRR) projects since 2010, assisting more than 50,000 third-country nationals to voluntarily return to their country of origin.

The current AVRR project will run until 30 June 2023.

* 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 return (AVRR/OCAVRR)” is co-funded 75% by European Funds (Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund) and 25% by National Funds.

**IOM is not currently supporting voluntary return to the Syrian Arab Republic, Afghanistan and Ukraine as the conditions for safe and dignified assisted returns are not yet in place.


For more information, please contact Christine Nikolaidou, IOM Greece, Tel.: +30 210 99 19 040, Email: