Annual Voluntary Return and Reintegration Partner Meeting in Brussels
Brussels - On the 13th of December, IOM organised its annual Voluntary Return and Reintegration Partner Meeting in Brussels. The participants were given an overview of the current migration landscape. This year, the meeting focused on the new criteria of the reintegration programme and its opportunities. In order to respect the COVID-19 measures, the session was held in a hybrid way, allowing for both online and live interactions via a live stream. In total, 120 persons attended the partner meeting.
We had the honour of receiving the State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, Mr. Sammy Mahdi. Earlier this year, he visited himself IOM’s integrated reintegration approach in Senegal, where returnees and their communities benefitted from this support. Concerning the voluntary return process, he confirmed the important role that civil society has to play, next to his increased support to governmental entities such as Fedasil and Immigration Office, on information sharing and counseling.
In addition, he stressed the importance of the skills acquisition component for asylum seekers, which can be of benefit in both the integration as in the reintegration process. "It's about giving people the space and resources so that they acquire valuable competences for the labour market”.
Fedasil highlighted their Reach Out programme, an initiative to inform people without residence permits about their rights and opportunities in terms of asylum and return. "Building a network of stakeholders at different levels is essential to make these hard-to-reach target groups visible," said Mr. Michael Kegels, Director General of Fedasil. "(Re)integration activities are not stand-alone activities, but commitments that we try to embed into the social fabric."
Mr. Valon Halimi, IOM's Officer in Charge, illustrated how IOM Belgium kept up high standards in Migrant Protection and Assistance programming in difficult (COVID-19) times. Thanks to increased knowledge sharing, new partnerships and strong operational networks, IOM Belgium kept up the pace with neighbouring countries in terms of the total number of returns in 2021.
A big thank you to all our partners who were present. Because of your commitment, the Belgian Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programme remains for many migrants a possibility of returning home in dignity.