The First agreement signed between the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration, now the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Government of Belgium dates from 1973. It was revised in 1996 due to the change in the Organization’s name.
In Belgium, IOM is represented by the Country Office for Belgium and Luxembourg and is located in the Rue Montoyer 40 in Brussels.
The Country Office’s main priorities are to develop and implement several programmes and projects, working closely with institutions such as the State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, Fedasil, the Belgian Immigration Office, the Belgian Development Cooperation, the European Commission, the Luxemburgish Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, as major donors, and in collaboration with diverse partners within the civil society.
In Luxembourg, IOM’s main support relates to Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR), providing migrants residing in Luxembourg with tailor-made assistance in their return back home.
In terms of major activities implemented in Belgium, the Assisted Voluntary Return programme should be highlighted. The implementation of the Voluntary Return project by IOM in Brussels began in 1984. The Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (FEDASIL), the Belgium governmental agency dealing with asylum seekers accommodation provision, is the donor for the Voluntary Return project and has the mandate to manage AVR(R) in Belgium. It has thus defined the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration approach for the past thirty years, and ensured the development and establishment of a strong Voluntary Return Network for maximal referrals of potential beneficiaries.
The Belgian Reintegration Assistance Programs, which include a specific approach for vulnerable cases, medical cases, family cases, and unaccompanied minors, are implemented by IOM in Brussels since 2006 with the assistance of the IOM Offices in over 118 countries of return. They are funded by Fedasil and EU Funds. The provision of reintegration assistance to eligible applicants through:
- both pre-departure and post-return thorough counselling, orientation and referral service;
- the provision of individualized and tailored reintegration grants in country of return with a participative approach.
These are an integral part of IOM’s approach to return migration which supports the returnees in their effort to reintegrate and be self-sufficient, responds to their immediate humanitarian needs upon return and also aims to contribute to strengthening local communities.
Are you currently in Belgium and are you interested in the assistance IOM can provide you to return to your country of origin? Read more about it on this dedicated page.
Since 2013, Belgium has a structural Resettlement programme in place. Each year, Belgium is offering resettlement places to a certain number of vulnerable refugees, in need of international protection.
Last but not least, IOM in Belgium and Luxembourg has successfully been implementing various projects in the field of labour mobility and human development. Implemented with various local and international partners in the public and private sector, these activities focus on:
- activities that help migrants better integrate into new communities as well as assisting receiving communities to recognize the positive contributions that migrants can make. This includes projects on labour market integration and capacity building of national and local authorities on migrant integration (Actiris Coordination Platform project), as well as awareness-raising and anti discrimination and anti-xenophobia campaigns (Other Talk project; CoP without Borders);
- labour mobility schemes, including the extensive preparation of participants for employment (pre-departure orientation, skills and competencies verification, counselling about rights and responsibilities). This includes enhancing partnerships and cooperation between countries of origin and destination to facilitate labour and skills mobility, as well as cooperation with the private sector (Tunisia project; MATCH project);
- providing protection and assistance measures for all migrants vulnerable to violence, exploitation, abuse and/or violation(s) of their rights, including women, unaccompanied migrant children (UMC), LGBTQI+ people with a migration background, etc. (Equalcity project, U-CARE project, FAB project);
- engaging diaspora communities to contribute to socio-economic development in their countries of origin through skills and knowledge transfer (Rwanda diaspora project);
- mainstreaming migration into international cooperation and development policies.
Mrs Marise Habib is the current Chief of Mission of the Country Office for Belgium and Luxembourg.