Dima - Summer School

Dima, a young Iraqi girl, was only three years old when her parents decided to migrate for reasons related to lack of security and instability in Iraq. After a perilous journey through land and sea, Dima and her family arrived in Belgium and settled in a camp as they applied for asylum, and in that time, they started another journey of waiting. During three years as migrants, the family moved many times between Germany and Belgium and they got fed up by receiving a negative decision regarding their case so they finally decided to return to Iraq.

Dima integrated with European culture in a positive way, she learned French language and a bit of German as well as acquired many good habits while she was enrolled in a Belgian school. Dima and her parents had counseling sessions after their arrival to Iraq. They visited IOM Baghdad office to claim for their eligibility. IOM team in Baghdad discussed their reintegration plan thoroughly. After a detailed one to one counseling, the family decided to enroll Dima in a summer school to help her interact with other children for more socializing experience, also to develop her analytical skills. Dima faced some challenges due to her poor Arabic language, however she managed to communicate very well after receiving the best support by the school staff and her young colleagues.

When we’ve asked Dima about her migration memories, she said:  “I still remember my sixth-year birthday in Belgium, my teacher made me a nice surprise party and I was so happy, I hope I’ll have the same one here!”


Mahmood - Electrical shop

Mahmood left Iraq to pursue a better future in Europe. He had trouble keeping a job and combined with the ongoing armed conflict he decided to leave Iraq. He arrived in 2015 and applied for asylum. After being in Belgium for quite some time he realized that integrating in the country was not as straightforward as expected. After receiving a negative asylum decision he decided to contact IOM and return to Baghdad.

Upon his arrival in Baghdad he met with IOM staff to discuss his reintegration. He explained to them his willingness to open a shop that sells electrical and wiring material. Mahmood has previous experience in this field and believed it would be an attractive shop for possible customers. Before starting his business he established a business plan together with his reintegration counsellors in Iraq. By doing so he mapped the competition, how he would diversify himself and place him on the market. He provided IOM with all necessary documents including the invoices and a lease agreement (ownership document) and was ready to start. A few months later his business was started successfully and he is happy with the achievements he was able to make so far. Furthermore, he is planning to take extra courses to further innovate his business and keep his competitive position on the labor market. 




Kareem - Shop owner

Struggling with the economic and security situation in Baghdad, Kareem decided to leave his country and family with three minor children. He thought that abroad he could find a better future for him as well as for his family. “My family is everything to me and their happiness is a priority for me” Kareem affirmed.

The high unemployment rate combined with the tense security and political situations were enough reason for Kareem to leave and to try and start something new in Belgium. The reality however was not as wonderful as he had initially expected. The reception structure situation was not ideal and he did not like being dependent both on a social as well as economical level. In addition, he really missed his family so much. After staying in Belgium for only a year, IOM helped Kareem get back home.

 According to Kareem himself, the return process went smooth and fast and he is happy to be back.

In order to reintegrate and get some grip on his life back in Baghdad, Kareem also received reintegration assistance. He invested the grant he received in a small shop, selling milk, food and drinks. Almost all of the amount he was entitled to was invested in products to sell in the mini-supermarket.

Kareem said that “despite the difficult economic situation in Baghdad, the shop generates enough income for me and my family to have a decent life”, and added that this income is even slightly higher than the average wage employees earn.

Back in Iraq, the family restarted their life and started to build on the network of friends and family again. Happy to see his children growing up right in front of him, he is very much enjoying spending time with them and with his friends.

Some days he does regret the amount of money he has spent to go to Europe. Even though the amount of reintegration assistance that was given to him was compared to what he had paid the smugglers, it was essential in rebuilding his life, starting again from scratch.           

Ibrahim - Mechanic shop

Ibrahim left Iraq with his wife and his two children at the beginning of summer 2015 because of the political situation in Iraq and because he wanted to explore other employment opportunities in order to improve his living conditions. After having crossed the sea, they arrived in Greece where they were first registered. Little did Ibrahim know that this way, in the framework of the Dublin Treaty, his asylum request would not be considered by the Belgian authorities, but would have to be reviewed by the Greek authorities. 

One of the main reasons for which he and his family came to Belgium was the fact that he had relatives here who’d already started asylum procedures. After having understood that he could not continue legal avenues for residency in Belgium and considering the grueling trip his family endured to make it here, he decided to go back to Iraq. In total, the family stayed less than a year in Belgium.

In his counseling sessions with the IOM reintegration counsellors, it became clear very quickly what kind of reintegration assistance would be useful to Ibrahim, who is a professional electrician in automechanics who used to have his own business before closing it to migrate to Europe.

Upon his return, he reopened his workshop in a vibrant area in Baghdad. With the reintegration assistance he could benefit from, a part was spent to buy essential machines needed in his workshop to repair the cars. Due to the high demand in this sector, Ibrahim was even able to expand his business in quite a short time and open a second workshop.

“Restoring the good contacts with previous loyal customers was an essential step for me to re-open my business, so I worked really hard to provide the best repair and commercial services to my customers.” Ibrahim said.

“I am happy that I returned to my country and was able to re-establish my business and count on loyal customers and provide a stable and familiar place to live for my family. With what remained of the funds allocated for reintegration assistance, Ibrahim was able to buy new very much needed house furniture: “My children were crying when we sold their beds before making the trip to Europe, but now they are very excited about their new beds.”