GENEVA, AUGUST 18 – Some 19,088 migrants have returned home voluntarily with assistance from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, from 1 April to 30 June 2017, according to the IOM AVRR quarterly bulletin published today (18/08). These migrants have returned from 81 host and transit countries to 136 countries and territories of origin.
This brings the number of migrants assisted to return home voluntarily to 38,019* since the beginning of 2017. The bulletin produced by IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) Unit shows an overall decrease of assisted voluntary returns in the first semester of 2017, as compared to the same period in 2016.
This reflects fewer beneficiaries returning from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. Such a decrease can be explained by a combination of factors including lower influx of migrant arrivals and lower numbers of asylum applications. Other influential factors include changes in national migration and asylum policies, such as restrictions on eligibility criteria for assisted voluntary return. The bulletin also highlights that one third of migrants assisted by IOM during the last quarter were female and nearly one quarter were children.
Figures presented in the bulletin mirror a situation that is going back to normal for AVRR globally, after the unprecedented, high volumes of assisted voluntary returns from Europe in 2016,” remarked Nicola Graviano, Senior AVRR Specialist at IOM’s Migrant Assistance Division (MAD) in IOM Headquarters in Geneva. At the same time, the bulletin’s data points to an increase in assisted voluntary returns from countries such as Niger or Djibouti, which are usually considered as transit countries for migrants en route to the EEA or the Gulf countries. “Our colleagues in the field have noticed a general increase in the number of migrants in vulnerable situations among the returnees, who require specific attention and tailored assistance,” concluded Graviano.
From 1 January until 30 June 2017, the EEA and Switzerland was the region from where most migrants returned (73 per cent), while South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia remained the region with the largest number of returnees (39 per cent). Migrants assisted by IOM mainly returned from Germany (16,645), Greece (2,924) and Niger (2,795). The main countries of origin were Albania (4,421), Iraq (4,006) and Ethiopia (2,330).