Within the framework of the Solidarity Declaration agreed in June 2022 by 21 European Union Member States (EUMS) and associated countries, the new EU-Funded Voluntary Solidarity Mechanism (VSM) will support the 8,289 voluntary relocations from the five first-line Mediterranean countries, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, and Spain, to European Union Member States and associated countries.  

In coordination with the European Commission (EC), the national authorities involved in the relocation process, and other stakeholders such as the EU Agency for Asylum (EUAA), IOM and within the framework of the EU – funded project ‘’Support and preparatory activities to facilitate voluntary transfer of either applicants for or beneficiaries of international protection (REMED5)’’ ensures that beneficiaries are adequately prepared for and subsequently transferred to the Member State of Relocation (MSR) in safety and dignity and on a voluntary basis, receiving comprehensive support throughout the entire process. 

IOM provides comprehensive pre-departure and movement assistance, consisting of direct protection assistance, pre-migration health activities (PMHA), pre-departure orientation (PDO), and assistance during departure, transit and arrival, as relevant. The Action will focus on establishing common and homogeneous approaches across all five departure countries while duly considering the specificities of each local context. 

In that context, IOM undertakes the below activities:  

  • The delivery of Migration Health Assessments (MHAs). The health assessments are performed by medical entities identified at the context of each country while the experienced IOM Medical team oversees and validates all health assessments by ensuring that the medical files of the beneficiaries are transferred to the country where the beneficiaries will be relocated; 

  • The facilitation of Pre-departure orientation (PDO) to ensure all beneficiaries are well informed about the MSR, as well as their rights and obligations. The PDO addresses any concerns and serves to manage expectations about the assistance they will receive during the first few months in the MSR; 

  • IOM makes all relevant movement management arrangements by booking the most suitable flight (commercial or charter) to ensure that the movement is carried out in the safest and most dignified way; 

  • IOM conducts pre-embarkation checks (PEC) 24 to 72 hours prior to beneficiary departure to ensure their fitness to travel and that all medical provisions for their health/safety are taken into consideration; 

  • On the day of departure, IOM organizes the transfer and accompaniment of the beneficiaries to the embarkation airport where IOM staff assists them throughout the process; 

  • IOM ensures the presence of operational and medical escorts who accompany the beneficiaries from departure to final destination;  

  • Assistance during transit, arrival, and immediate reception is provided if beneficiaries are travelling on a non-direct flight. IOM arranges for transit assistance in coordination with IOM Offices in the transit countries. Reception assistance will be also available in the receiving countries if necessary;  

  • IOM ensures the provision of holistic assistance to relocation candidates, in line with their psychological and social needs. Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) is provided to those expected to be relocated. MHPSS takes an individualized approach to beneficiaries in need of such assistance prior to their relocation (for example, the provision of stress management support to better cope with issues that might arise during the selection process and/or the transfer to the MSR).  

In parallel, IOM will organize internal transfers of relocation candidates in Greece, Italy and Spain, to ensure their smooth processing and channeling to relocation structures. This support will enable the swift completion of necessary steps of the relocation process, as eligible relocation candidates will arrive in relocation structures in a timely manner and will further ensure that they are not spread over several locations, which would result in procedural complications. In Italy and Greece, this will equally contribute to alleviating the pressure on the arrival centers, reducing the time migrants spend in first line reception centers and thus avoid congesting first assistance services provided in these areas.