Global migration, which had declined by about 27 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, is starting to recover at pre-pandemic levels. In 2021, IOM helped 49,795 migrants return to their countries of origin, an increase of 18 percent from the previous year.
Reflecting on the report, Yitna Getachew, head of the agency’s Protection Department, said that “this publication highlights IOM’s ability to meet an increasing demand from migrants for safe and dignified returns and to facilitate their reintegration in the countries of origin after the lifting of many travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic.”
As Mr Getachew points out, the main highlights of return and reintegration in 2021 is notable for documenting IOM’s success in meeting increased demand.
Also notable in the report is the continuing 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 with dignified returns, with a total of 10,573 migrants helped home. Niger’s beneficiaries dramatically overshadow every country in Europe. However, there are still more beneficiaries in Europe than Niger.
The basis of assisted voluntary return programs is reintegration programmes, which provide opportunities for returnees and promote sustainable development, according to IOM.
In 2021, IOM offices in 121 countries worldwide supported 113,331 reintegration activities at individual, community and structural levels.
Overall, Germany, Nigeria and Guinea were the top three countries, including both host and origin countries, to provide reintegration support in 2021.
The support mainly consisted of social and economic assistance, as well as reintegration guidance. The purpose of these multidimensional schemes is to ensure a level of economic self-sufficiency, social stability and psychological well-being, making further migration a choice rather than a necessity.
The latest guidelines from IOM are further laid down in the agency’s 2021 policy on the full spectrum of return, readmission and reintegration. The policy entrusts the IOM with multilateral involvement in return migration through a holistic, rights-based and sustainable development approach that can promote return, readmission and sustainable reintegration.
This policy refocused IOM’s focus on the well-being of individual returnees and the protection of their rights throughout the return process, putting individuals first.