Cairo- As part of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in North Africa, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) brought together representatives of different government institutions and the European Union Delegation in Egypt to present the achievements and results of its Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme and to discuss ways to accelerate the return and reintegration of stranded migrants in Egypt as well as Egyptian nationals abroad. 

The event that took place on Wednesday 7 April, was facilitated by IOM experts and was chaired by her Excellency Ambassador Nevine El Husseiny, Deputy Assistant Minister for Migration, Refugees and Combatting Human Trafficking and Ms. Graziella Rizza, Head of Section at European Union (EU) Delegation to Egypt as well as Mr. Laurent De Boeck, Chief of Mission of IOM Egypt. The event was made possible thanks to supporting from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

“I thank the EU for funding this important project that I personally see as an opportunity for an individual or a family for a new beginning. Reintegration is as important as return. I call on IOM and the EU to offer further technical support to government institutions in Egypt on reintegration. I also call on the EU to provide more financial support to IOM’s AVRR programme,” said her Excellency Ambassador Nevine El Husseiny during the workshop.

“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. We do look forward to continuing our engagement with the EU on this matter.”

During the workshop, an overview of IOM’s return and reintegration activities in Egypt, including the number of migrants assisted in the past couple of years had been presented and operational challenges had been discussed. A need for reviewing some procedures to ease and expedite the return of stranded migrants in Egypt to their countries of origin had been underlined.

“The fact that we are here together today shows that it is the right approach. It is the right approach because when we speak about assisted voluntary returns from and to Egypt, we need to consider two important aspects. First, there are more than six million migrants in Egypt of which many are being assisted by IOM. Second, the Egyptian nationals in the 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,” said Ms. Graziella Rizza, Head of Section at EU Delegation to Egypt.

Areas of further collaboration between IOM and the Government of Egypt such as enhancing the referrals from government entities to IOM and the possibility to facilitate voluntary return movements from cities other than Cairo had been discussed. The need for having mobile teams in cities such as Alexandria and its possible positive impact on the overall operational costs of the AVRR programme and the importance of developing clear national AVRR procedures had been emphasized.

The second part of the workshop was dedicated to reintegration. An overview of the number of returning Egyptian migrants that have had received reintegration assistance through the EU-funded EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in North Africa had been presented. Reintegration processes, timelines and conditions as well as types of reintegration assistance provided under the programme had been highlighted. Main sending countries and main cities of return in Egypt had also been presented.

“To date, 500 stranded migrants in Egypt have been assisted to voluntarily return to their countries of origin from Egypt and were provided with reintegration assistance as part of the EU-funded EU-IOM Joint Initiative. A total of 23 Egyptian returnees have received reintegration assistance under the programme,” said Mr. Laurent De Boeck, IOM Egypt Chief of Mission.

“AVRR programme is part of our approach to migration governance. It offers migrants a sustainable solution and a safe and dignified return to their countries of origin. I thank the EU for its support and the Government of Egypt for its collaboration.”

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.

In Egypt, the programme enables migrants who decide to return to their countries of origin to do so in a safe and dignified way and offer reintegration support to Egyptian returnees.