While Libya continues to be the primary departure point for the journey across the Mediterranean, Egypt’s geographic position makes it an increasingly important departure point for irregular migrants. Over 1,900 irregular migrants arrived to Italy reporting that they had departed from Egypt from January to April 2016 as compared to only 655 during the same period of 2015, which represents a 192% increase. Migrants arriving in and transiting through Egypt are highly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Often spending prolonged periods in government custody where they have limited access to services to meet their immediate and at-times life threatening humanitarian needs. In addition, migrants experience barriers to protection and lack of integration opportunities with the host community, such as limited access to health care and education, as well as having minimal options to regularize their stay, which augments risks of exploitation in the informal work sector. These represent significant push factors for onward irregular migration toward Europe.

In order to provide real alternative and right-based solutions to irregular migration, IOM provides Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) services to migrants wanting to return to home and without protection concerns (as per 1951 Convention or IOM risk assessments) in the country of origin. This includes fully confidential screening interview, assistance with pre-departure immigration procedures, medical examination and escort based on need, airport assistance on departure and the return flight itself. Upon return, beneficiaries receive reintegration assistance. Since 2011, IOM Egypt has assisted more than 2,000 migrants to return voluntarily to their countries of origin.


This project contributes to ensuring sustainable rights-based solutions for vulnerable migrants transiting through Egypt to Europe. It is expected that stranded migrants in Egypt access rights-based and sustainable assisted voluntary return and reintegration.

  • Donors: UK Government
  • Duration: January 2017 to March 2018
  • Location: Egypt
  • Beneficiaries: Stranded migrants in Egypt, Government of Egypt
Expected Results
  • Stranded migrants in Egypt receive return assistance to their country of origin.
  • Returnees have the resources for sustainable reintegration within their community of origin.
Links to Broader National and International Commitments
  • Declaration of the Ministerial Conference of the Khartoum Process – “Developing a regional framework for return, including voluntary, and reintegration, in the full respect of human rights, while strengthening the national capacities in these fields”;  “Assisting in improving national capacity building in the field of migration management”.
  • Valletta Action Plan (2015), Priority initiative 5: “Strengthen cooperation in order to facilitate the return and sustainable reintegration of irregular migrants, both from EU Member States and associated countries and from African countries of transit and destination “.
  • Sustainable Development Goals – Goal 10.7 Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”; Goal 16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.
  • IOM Migration Governance Framework – Objective 3 “Migration should take place in a safe, orderly and dignified manner”.