E.g., 09/25/2023
E.g., 09/25/2023
Rewiring Migrant Returns and Reintegration after the COVID-19 Shock

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, millions of migrants have returned to their countries of origin, either having lost jobs abroad or because they wished to reunite with their families in these difficult times. Simultaneously, large numbers of migrants have found themselves stranded abroad and in need of assistance to either return to their origin countries or meet their basic needs in the meantime. And for recession-hit societies receiving returning migrants, the sudden loss of remittances and need to help returnees reintegrate have been acutely felt against the backdrop of other pandemic-related public-health and economic pressures.

The COVID-19 crisis has thus added an extraordinary layer of complications to an already-contentious policy area. Migrant returns and reintegration have attracted considerable attention in recent years. The inclusion in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration of an objective on cooperating to facilitate “safe and dignified return and reintegration” was a major breakthrough, and the pandemic has made following through on this commitment both more urgent than ever and more challenging.

This policy brief examines how the pandemic has affected return, reception, and reintegration policies and practices in countries around the world. It also considers how return and reintegration infrastructure, and partnerships between origin and destination countries, could be improved, with a broadened definition of what constitutes sustainable reintegration.

Table of Contents 

1  Introduction

2  Returns during the COVID-19 Crisis: Three Main Trends
A. Large-Scale Returns
B. Stranded Migrants
C. Forced Returns

3  Managing Reception and Reintegration in a Pandemic
A. Reception Gains Added Importance
B. Reintegration in the Midst of a Health and Economic Crisis

4  Takeaways for the Future of Return and Reintegration
A. Return and Reception
B. Reintegration

5  Conclusion