Embedding reintegration assistance more deeply into the local environment can improve outcomes for returned migrants, MPI Europe brief suggests
BRUSSELS —As policymakers and practitioners increasingly recognize the diversity of returnee needs and the benefits of individually tailoring reintegration support, the potential exists to improve outcomes by better connecting assistance with local public services, community initiatives and development programs. Embedding reintegration assistance into local contexts can expand the variety of services available to returnees and connect them to a support system that will remain in place long after time-limited reintegration initiatives end, a new Migration Policy Institute Europe policy brief explains.
As European policymakers revisit the structure of return governance, in particular by moving towards common standards for reintegration support, raising the visibility of local partnership networks can encourage their use and more systematic evaluation, MPI Europe Associate Policy Analyst Ravenna Sohst and Senior Policy Analyst Camille Le Coz suggest.
Embedding reintegration support within the context of the communities in which returnees settle by partnering with local actors and initiatives not only expands the variety of support measures available to returnees, but it connects them to trusted partners and strengthens origin-country governments’ sense of ownership over reintegration efforts. The referral systems that facilitate these connections, particularly when combined with capacity-building assistance, also present an opportunity to build better linkages between migration and development programs and ensure their goals are aligned.
The policy brief, Embedding Reintegration Assistance for Returning Migrants in the Local Context: The role of referrals, draws in part on interviews conducted with representatives of reintegration service providers, government agencies and civil society organizations in 29 countries. It discusses referral mechanisms’ objectives and offers a typology of approaches taken in the mechanisms’ implementation across reintegration programs, according to the stakeholders involved and levels of formality. It then discusses recurrent challenges and emerging good practices, concluding with recommendations for strategies to step up local embeddedness of reintegration programs, including by producing better evidence on what works.
"Moving forward, referral mechanisms should be seen as an integral part of returnee reintegration and broader development strategies," the analysts write.
But they add, "Building relationships with local partners and setting up well-functioning referral systems—ones with a clear definition of responsibilities, agreement on data protection measures and monitoring systems—will take both time and resources."
The research was conducted as part of a 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.
Earlier research in this project includes an examination of predeparture counseling in European assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programs, and a policy brief sketching a road map to stronger monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems to assess AVRR program outcomes.
Read the local embeddedness policy brief here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/reintegration-local-context.