According to the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) 2021 Return and Reintegration Key Highlights, about 50,000 migrants received assistance in voluntarily returning to their home countries, and more than 113,000 reintegration activities were supported internationally.
Global mobility increased over the previous year. However, the number of returnees is still below pre-pandemic movements because of the COVID-19 pandemic. IOM helped 49,795 migrants return to their home countries in 2021, an increase of 18% over the previous year (2020). Among these, the Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) program of the IOM, a type of return support used in humanitarian contexts, provided assistance to 6,367 migrants to return.
Similar to the year before, the European Economic Area served as the primary host zone in 2021, receiving 16,993 migrants who were aided in returning willingly to their home countries. With a total of 10,573 migrants helped to return, Niger continued to be the primary host nation, demonstrating the ongoing trend of rising returns from transit nations in other host regions outside of the European Economic Area.
Yitna Getachew, Head of IOM’s Protection Division, said of the publication, “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.”
Reintegration is a key aspect of assisted voluntary return programs to provide opportunities to returnees and promote sustainable development in their countries of origin. In 2021, IOM offices in 121 countries worldwide supported 113,331 reintegration activities at the individual, community, and structural levels. Overall, the top three countries, including both host and countries of origin, that provided reintegration support in 2021 were Germany (15%), Nigeria (12%), and Guinea (8%). The support consisted mainly of social assistance, economic assistance, and reintegration counseling.
“The publication offers rich insights into global trends in terms of return and reintegration assistance provided by IOM in accordance with its rights-based approach and protection framework. IOM is assisting migrants who are seeking to return to their countries of origin in full respect of their human rights and is contributing to their sustainable reintegration,” Getachew added.
In 2021, IOM released its Policy on the Full Spectrum of Return, Readmission and Reintegration, which guides the Organization’s work and engagement with partners on return migration through a holistic, rights-based, and sustainable development-oriented approach that facilitates return, readmission, and sustainable reintegration. It focuses on the well-being of individual returnees and the protection of their rights throughout the entire return, readmission, and reintegration process, placing individuals at the center of all efforts and empowering those making an informed decision to participate in assisted voluntary return programs.
The report which highlights the Organization’s Return and Reintegration programs includes trends, figures, and initiatives to assist migrants in their safe and dignified return and sustainable reintegration.