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“Option Freiwillige Rückkehr" (Option Voluntary Return)

"Option Freiwillige Rückkehr" (OFR), which is German for “Option Voluntary Return”, is a joint project by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The aim is to provide information on nationwide programmes and initiatives in the field of assisted voluntary return and reintegration work, to facilitate synergies, and to offer a professional networking platform. The project is a result of the development of a coherent approach to assisted voluntary return and reintegration in Germany by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

In this context, IOM, BAMF and GIZ developed three core messages that highlight the commonalities of the three partners in the field of assisted voluntary return and reintegration:

  • We support people who cannot or do not want to stay in Germany in returning in a dignified manner.
  • We inform people about their individual options so that they can make an informed decision.
  • We provide comprehensive guidance for people from their counselling in Germany to their sustainable reintegration in their region of origin.

“Option Freiwillige Rückkehr” addresses a broad group of stakeholders in the field, including return counsellors, representatives of municipalities and federal states, and volunteers. In 2018 OFR started with 14 regional network meetings where more than 720 governmental and civil actors exchanged ideas. Since then, the series of events has enjoyed great popularity and has been continued with different concepts. What all these events have in common is to provide a networking opportunity for expert stakeholders and project staff from IOM, BAMF and GIZ, and to enable a structured dialogue on migration-specific thematic issues.

In 2019 the series of events focused on "dialogues on voluntary return and sustainable reintegration" in different regions of origin, while in 2020, due to the impact of the global health crisis, it was dedicated to the topic of "effects of corona on return and reintegration work". With "accompanying a returnee", the 2021 event series focuses on the vulnerability of women during return and reintegration. Besides, projects and programmes of the three partner organizations are comprehensively introduced and analysed based on the fictitious journey of a returnee.

In summer 2021, the handbook "Option Freiwillige Rückkehr: Angebote zur freiwilligen Rückkehr und nachhaltigen Reintegration" will be published in German language. It summarizes programmes and projects available to people deciding for assisted voluntary return and reintegration.

Currently, all OFR events take place virtually. A return to the regular event format is planned for autumn 2021.


Your contact at the International Organization for Migration:

Lilith Schardt

Phone: + 49 30 27877 8816