Voluntary return supports the future of asylum seekers in their home country
The Finnish Immigration Service, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Crisis Management Centre Finland have initiated a project that will help to develop voluntary return. Countries of return are particularly Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. Also in recent years, the majority of asylum seekers have come to Finland from these countries. The goal is, among other things, to increase the knowledge of voluntary return among persons who may be returning.
By voluntary return we mean that asylum seekers or other returning persons return voluntarily to their home country or to another country where they have a residence permit. Persons who are returning to their place of residence are given tickets. In addition, the majority receive financial assistance which can for example be assistance for finding work, for starting a small business, for living or for children’s education.
Persons who have illegally remained in Finland after receiving a negative asylum decision will find it difficult or even impossible to live in Finland. Voluntary return is always a better solution than the person with a negative decision being returned by the police to his or her home country.
"Voluntary return is a humane and safe way to return to your home country. Those who return, travel on a regular flight as normal passengers with dignity and without shame. The reintegration assistance given in their home country will help them establish a new life after a long absence," says Mari Helenius, Senior Adviser at the Finnish Immigration Service.
The Finnish Immigration Service will increase its communication on voluntary return. The project will soon be visible in social media.
More collaboration with the countries of return
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs follows and analyses the situation in the target countries for voluntary return and develops widely its bilateral relationships with these countries. Finland wishes to increase the collaboration between the European counties and the common countries of origin for asylum seekers.
The project will develop the follow-up on how the lives of asylum seekers continue after their voluntary return. The asylum seekers who have returned from Finland to Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia with assisted voluntary return will undergo a survey to find out their situation after their return. At the same time, we will get information on how effective assisted voluntary return really is. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) will perform the follow-up study by order of the Finnish Immigration Service.
When investigating the preconditions for return, we wish to utilise, more than before, the information of the Finnish experts in civilian crisis management who work in the countries of return. The Crisis Management Centre Finland, a governmental employer under the Ministry of the Interior which posts Finnish experts, develops in cooperation with the experts their regular reporting in such a way that it will support the project partners’ work with voluntary return.
Most returning to Iraq
The majority of the persons who return are Iraqis, Afghans or Somalis who already have received one or more negative asylum decision. The largest group are persons with Iraqi origins.
In January–Mars of this year, 290 persons returned with assisted voluntary return. The majority of those, 231 persons, returned to Iraq. Seven returned to Afghanistan and three to Somalia. In 2017, a total of 1,102 persons returned to Iraq, when the total amount of returning persons was 1,422.
A person can only receive assisted voluntary return if he or she withdraws all his or her pending applications and appeals concerning them. A person will only be granted assisted voluntary return if he or she needs it and cannot pay for the return him or herself.
The two-year project goes by the name Auda. The project is partially financed by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union (AMIF).
You can find more information on assisted voluntary return on the page www.migri.fi/en/return.
More information on the project:
Finnish Immigration Service, Mari Helenius, Senior Adviser [email protected], tel. +358 295 430 431
Crisis Management Centre Finland, Jyrki Ruohomäki, Head of Development, [email protected], tel. +358 295 453 669