IOM Egypt Works Towards Reaching Sustainable Solutions for Stranded Migrants

IOM Egypt Works Towards Reaching Sustainable Solutions for Stranded Migrants

Cairo, 7 April 2021- Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) is considered a vital approach within migration governance. The AVRR programmes are implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in cooperation with its Member States. It is aimed at supporting stranded migrants who are unable to remain in host and transit countries and decided to return to their home country. It offers logistical or financial support to migrants, including re-integration back home. AVRR works to achieve sustainable solutions for migrants in need.

In cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Union, IOM Egypt has organized a workshop on AVRR under the “EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in North Africa”.  This workshop took place on 7 April in Cairo. It was attended by 17 Egyptian experts from various ministries and national and international organizations. The workshop has examined strategies and policies that could be implemented to facilitate the voluntary return and reintegration of stranded migrants in Egypt as well as Egyptian migrants abroad. 

H.E. Ambassador Neveen El Husseiny, Deputy Assistant Minister for Migration, Refugees and Combatting Human Trafficking at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, affirmed that “Encouraging the AVRR is an indispensable part of the comprehensive approach that the Government of Egypt has adopted to migration management to ensure a dignified and humane return and reintegration of migrants who are unable or unwilling to remain in host countries and wish to voluntarily return to their countries of origin". Mr Laurent De Boeck, IOM Chief of Mission to the Arab Republic of Egypt, reconfirmed IOM readiness to work with all partners to further support the returning Egyptians to make their reintegration sustainable. He also emphasized IOM interest in exploring opportunities for sustainable community-based reintegration for the benefit of the wider community.

During the workshop, statistical figures of IOM return and reintegration activities in Egypt, including the number of migrants assisted in the last years have been analyzed. In 2019, IOM Egypt has provided AVRR assistance to 905 migrants, which represents an increment of 82,8% in numbers of returnees in comparison with 2018. While in 2020, IOM has assisted 497 migrants to return to their home countries. The 2020 decrease was due to the COVID-19 global restrictions. However, despite all the challenges imposed by the pandemic, IOM Egypt has yet managed to return 497 applicants to their home countries and continued providing tailored assistance to stranded migrants, until their return could be organized.

The workshop has also highlighted the number of returning Egyptian expatriates through the AVRR modalities. In 2020, 145 Egyptians returned to Egypt from various countries with IOM assistance. Sixty-nine of them received reintegration assistance upon arrival, while 23 received their reintegration assistance through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in North Africa.

Referring to the Egyptian case study within the AVRR context, the workshop discussed the patterns of migrants in sending and returning countries. In 2020, the main countries of residence of the Egyptians abroad were Greece, Germany and Spain. They originated from the governorates of Dakahlia and Gharbia mainly. Moreover, the workshop has analyzed the main causes that affect the voluntary return decisions of Egyptian migrants. One major factor relates to Egyptians’ incapability of securing permanent jobs that affect the remittances they needed to send back home. In addition to that, in some cases, they are unable to regularize their stay due to the immigration and asylum laws.

“When we speak about Assisted Voluntary Returns from and to Egypt, said Ms Graziella Rizza, First Counsellor, Head of Section for Human Rights, Civil Society, Migration and Governance for the European Union Delegation to Egypt, we need to consider two important aspects. Firstly, there are more than six million migrants in Egypt of whom many are being assisted by IOM. Secondly, the Egyptian nationals in the European Union (EU) who are willing to return to their country. The EU will continue supporting IOM’s AVRR programme as part of its new funding instrument”.

The workshop concluded on the way forward to facilitate access of migrants to voluntary return, through close cooperation of a series of Egyptian institutions and IOM. AVRR is considered a humane and orderly mechanism that provides protection towards sustainable solutions for safe migration.

Supported by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative is the first comprehensive programme bringing together 26 African countries of the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa, the EU and IOM around the shared goal of ensuring that migration is safer, more informed, and better governed for both migrants and their communities.