IOM and the European Union to help thousands of vulnerable migrants return home from Turkey

Migrants stuck in Turkey can now benefit from a new voluntary returns programme. On 16 April 2019, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the European Union (EU) Delegation in partnership Government of Turkey, announced that they will begin providing assistance to migrants who want to return to their countries of origin.

The programme, known as Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) of Irregular Migrants in Turkey, will aim to assist 3,500 migrants, with approximately one-fifth of the most vulnerable provided with reintegration support.

“Safe options for migrants to return home are crucial, without the stigma of deportation. AVRR assistance brings a complementary option for stranded or vulnerable migrants to return home in dignity and safety with the opportunity to reintegrate sustainably in their home communities,” says Lado Gvilava, IOM Turkey’s Chief of Mission.

IOM said two of those supported by the voluntary returns programme was Zarghona Balkhi and her young daughter Raihan. Zarghona took her two children, a son and a daughter, on a two-week journey organised by smugglers through Pakistan and Iran to Turkey. Her son disappeared two weeks later. “I tried to find work here but without speaking Turkish and not having an education, it is too difficult for me. My son was my only livelihood and without him it is impossible to stay,” said Zarghona. IOM eventually supported the return of mother and daughter home to Mazar-i-Sharif.

Turkey is the world’s largest host of asylum seekers and economic migrants, with more than four million escaping insecurity, social and economic instability, and poverty. Most of these asylum seekers are from Syria, but Iraqis, Afghans and Iranians also make up significant numbers. Many struggle to integrate due to financial and language barriers, that prevent them from accessing schools, hospitals and employment.

TMP – 20/05/2019

Photo credit: nlin.nee / Shutterstock

Photo caption: The plane parked at the Istanbul Airport