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West and Central Africa - Assistance to Voluntary and Humanitarian Return (2017 - 2021) Profiles of migrants assisted to return to their country of origin

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This document presents an analysis of interviews conducted with all individuals assisted in their voluntary return by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) between 2017 and 2021 (130,424) to one of the 23 countries covered by the West and Central Africa region (WCA). The analysis combines datasets from both Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) and Voluntary Humanitarian returns (VHR).

INTRODUCTION

CONTEXT

This document presents an analysis of interviews conducted with all individuals assisted in their voluntary return by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) between 2017 and 2021 (130,424) to one of the 23 countries covered by the West and Central Africa region (WCA). The analysis combines datasets from both Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) and Voluntary Humanitarian returns (VHR).

Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) : Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration is an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach to migration management.

AVRR programmes provide administrative, logistical and financial support, including reintegration assistance, to migrants unable or unwilling to remain in host/transit countries and who decide to return to their country of origin.

The successful implementation of AVRR programmes requires the cooperation and participation of a broad range of actors, including the migrants, civil society and the governments in both host and transit countries and countries of origin. The partnerships created by IOM and a diverse range of national and international stakeholders are essential to the effective implementation of AVRR – from the return preparation to the reintegration stage.

For migrants who need to return home but lack the means to do so, IOM’s AVRR programmes are often the only solution to their immediate difficulties and needs. Beneficiaries of IOM’s assistance include:

  1. individuals whose application for asylum was rejected or withdrawn

  2. stranded migrants

  3. victims of trafficking, and

  4. other vulnerable migrants, including unaccompanied migrant children, or those with health-related needs.

Voluntary Humanitarian returns (VHR) :. In February 2011, civil unrest in Libya rapidly evolved into an armed conflict which led to the crossing of Libyan borders by some 796,000 migrants in 2011. In the aftermath of the conflict, the socio-economic conflict which remained unstable was further fragilized by the Covid 19 pandemic. In fact the loss of livelihood, the lack of financial resources and inadequate housing made the living conditions very difficult. Despite those difficulties, Libya remained among the top 4 host countries for migrants who were nationals of the WCA region from 2017 to 2021. IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarians return program was thus necessary to assist the vulnerable migrants, and ensure them a safe and secure return.

Since the onset of the crisis, IOM’s strategy is to support Member States protect their nationals by providing evacuation assistance to stranded migrants in Libya through its “Voluntary Humanitarian Returns” programme. IOM deemed necessary to adopt a new terminology from AVR to VHR to stress the humanitarian nature of this operation.

The objective of this document is to provide an overview of the profile of those assisted by IOM to return to their country of origin through AVRR and VHR programmes between from January 2017 to December 2021.

Information about the questionnaire and the applied methodology and limitations can be found at the end of the report.