Global Migration, which had decreased by approximately 27 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic, has begun to rebound to pre-pandemic levels. In 2021, IOM assisted 49,795 migrants return to their countries of origin, representing an increase of 18 per cent from the previous year.
Reflecting on the report Yitna Getachew, Head of the agency’s Protection Division, said that “this publication highlights IOM’s ability to meet an increasing demand by migrants for safe and dignified returns as well as to support their reintegration into the countries of origin following the lifting of many travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic.”
As Mr. Getachew indicates, the 2021 Return and Reintergration Key Highlights is noteworthy for documenting the success of IOM in meeting increased demand.
Also noteworthy in the report, is the continued trend of increasing returns from transit countries in other host regions outside Europe.
In 2021, Niger was the largest beneficiary of IOM’s efforts to assist in dignified returns, with a total of 10,573 migrants helped to head home. Niger’s beneficiaries dramatically overshadow any nation in Europe. However, Europe’s accumulated beneficiaries still outnumber Niger.
The bedrock of assisted voluntary return programmes are reintegration schemes, which provide opportunities to returnees and promote sustainable development, said IOM.
In 2021, IOM offices in 121 countries worldwide, supported 113,331 reintegration activities at the individual, community, and structural level.
Overall, the top three countries, including both host and countries of origin, that provided reintegration support in 2021 were Germany, Nigeria and Guinea.
The support consisted mainly of social and economic assistance, as well as reintegration counselling. The aim of these multi-dimensional schemes are to ensure a level of economic self-sufficiency, social stability and psychological wellbeing, that make’s further migration a choice rather than necessity.
IOM’s latest guidance is further captured in the agency’s 2021 Policy on the Full Spectrum of Return, Readmission and Reintegration. The policy tasks the IOM with multilateral engagement on return migration through a holistic, rights-based, and sustainable development-oriented approach that can boost returns, readmission, and sustainable reintegration.
This policy reoriented IOM’s focus on the well-being of individual returnees and the protection of their rights throughout the entire return process, placing individuals at the centre.