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Networking Events: “Option Voluntary Return“

In 2018, over the course of a joint event series entitled “Option Voluntary Return: Return and Reintegration Programs in Germany” (OFR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH implemented 14 regional networking events. In total, 720 state and civil actors participated in the event series.

The networking events were organized on behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and conducted in cooperation with regional partners, including local authorities, municipalities, immigration authorities as well as civil stakeholders.

The project aimed at contributing to the development of a coherent approach to all initiatives in the field of assisted voluntary return and reintegration at the German federal level by highlighting the synergies between the individual projects and programs of IOM, BAMF and GIZ. The events targeted a broader expert public consisting of return counsellors, policy and administrative practitioners, volunteers as well as local and national media representatives. In doing so, the event series also provided a platform for participants to engage in networking activities to further strengthen the German counseling structure. 

In this context, the networking events centered on three core messages that emphasize the commonalities between IOM, BAMF and GIZ in the field of assisted voluntary return and reintegration:

  • We support persons, who cannot or do not wish to remain in Germany in their return in dignity
  • We inform persons about their individual options, in order to enable them to make an informed decision
  • We accompany persons from the counselling in Germany to the reintegration in the country of origin

Due to the positive reception of OFR and the continued need for better information for return counsellors in Germany regarding reintegration counseling as a key element of the return counseling process, the event series is going to continue in 2019. This year’s event series, entitled “Option Voluntary Return: Dialogues on Voluntary Return and Sustainable Reintegration” is based on an adaptable, target group-specific concept. 

During the events, the participants will have the opportunity to engage with project staff from IOM, BAMF and GIZ in a workshop format as well as to discuss concrete questions and issues.

This year’s launch event took place in Dresden, Saxony on 15 May 2019. The event addressed return counsellors from all over Germany. Primarily, it dealt with the topic of reintegration the county of origin. Regional emphasis was placed on Iraq and the Western Balkans. In order to provide an insight into reintegration work on site, project staff from the countries of origin were invited. A second event with a federal state-specific focus took place in Mainz on June 4 in cooperation with the Ministry for Family Affairs, Women, Youth, Integration and Consumer Protection Rhineland-Palatinate. Most recently, an event was conducted on 23 July in Ulm, Baden-Württemberg in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior, Digitization and Migration of Baden-Wurttemberg and the Bavarian State Office for Asylum and Repatriation with a regional focus on West Africa. Project staff from Nigeria, Ghana, The Gambia and Senegal attended the event. Further events are planned. 


Contact person at the International Organization for Migration: 

Niklas Luksch

Tel.: + 49 30 278 778 49