MPI Europe Webinar
Delivering on the Promise of Predeparture Counseling for Sustainable Reintegration
Hajjaj Mustafa, Program Executive, Reintegration Program, European Technology and Training Centre
Peter Neelen, Senior Program Manager, European Return and Reintegration Network
Lea Balskilde, Senior Advisor / Program Specialist, Asylum and Repatriation, Danish Refugee Council
Lucia Salgado, Associate Policy Analyst, MPI Europe
Hanne Beirens, Director, MPI Europe
The return and reintegration of irregular migrants and asylum seekers whose protection claims are rejected has become a top priority for policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe, programs that assist returning migrants with reintegration into their countries and communities of origin have proliferated in the last decade.
Fostering the sustainable reintegration of returnees, however, it is not easy. Migrants often return to challenging circumstances and to changed local communities, and the stigma of an unsuccessful migration journey in some origin countries can further strain the transition into this new life. Reintegration programs aim to ease these challenges by providing assistance after return, such as aid to start a business or medical care. However, there is a newfound recognition among European policymakers that successful reintegration starts before return, and an increasing number of countries are investing in predeparture counseling. Counseling before return can help migrants prepare mentally for the journey ahead, develop a clear picture of life after return, and plan the first steps of their reintegration process, such as school enrolment or finding a job. Yet, the approaches to predeparture counseling still differ greatly in terms of methods, intensity, and the extent to which they involve partners in origin countries. Moreover, reintegration programs still face operational challenges to ensuring a smooth transition between the predeparture and post-arrival phases for returnees.
This discussion features experts and practitioners in origin and destination countries and examine how to leverage predeparture counseling for sustainable reintegration. The conversation accompanied the launch of an MPI Europe policy brief that explores promising approaches to strengthen the links between the predeparture and post-arrival phases in reintegration programs, improving returnees’ preparation for the journey ahead and increasing the chances that they will successfully reintegrate.
This webinar is part of a research partnership between MPI Europe and the European Return and Reintegration Network (ERRIN), funded through the European Union Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund (AMIF), with co-financing from participating national authorities.