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UK Government funds IOM Greece project to return migrants voluntarily

The British Embassy announced today the launch of a £2 million Assistance for the Voluntary Return and Reintegration of Returnees project.

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It will be implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Greece, in cooperation with the Greek Government, and funded by the British Government. The official launch took place at the British Residence. The British Ambassador John Kittmer was joined by the Greek Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, Nikos Dendias, and the Deputy Director-General of IOM, Ambassador Laura Thompson.

Funding for this programme emphasises the UK’s longstanding position that EU migratory pressures should be addressed through practical cooperation to build capacity in Member States’ national asylum and migration systems. Migration can enrich the culture and strengthen the economy of the adopted countries but illegal migration, not subjected to management and controls can have the opposite effect. For many illegal migrants the UK remains a primary destination country and many of those this programme will seek to assist would otherwise arrive in the UK.

This project will make a positive and significant contribution to Greece’s comprehensive management of migration by facilitating the safe return and reintegration of migrants in their countries of origin. The project will also raise awareness of the real dangers associated with illegal migration and of the advantages of returning home voluntarily, with support.

In his opening speech (MS Word Document, 24.9KB) , the British Ambassador John Kittmer said:

The British Government is pleased to be supporting the IOM by funding this project.We know that a significant number of migrants who enter Greece illegally have the UK in mind as their final destination. This is the reason the UK is funding this project. It will reduce the migratory pressure on the UK border. When migrants reach Greece and realise they cannot continue their journey to the UK or other destinations west of Greece, the IOM offers them the opportunity to return home”.

In his address, the Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection Nikolaos Dendias noted:

The programme we are launching today, as a result of our cooperation with the British Government, is expected to contribute substantially to voluntary returns of illegal migrants to their country of origin. Greece, as the EU Presiding Country, considers that cooperation and solidarity among Member States is the key to a successful European migration policy”.

The Deputy Director General of IOM, Ambassador Laura Thompson added:

By funding another project in Greece, to provide return assistance to 1,500 third country nationals and reintegration assistance to 75 returning migrants, this time for 24 months and 2 million pounds, the UK Home Office and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office have demonstrated once again the UK Government’s ongoing commitment to support the Government of Greece’s efforts to manage migration more effectively and at the same time to provide migrants with safe and dignified alternatives to return home”.

Notes for editors:

  • The project will assist 1,500 illegal migrants to return voluntarily to their countries of origin, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Bangladesh, Morocco, Egypt, India, Nigeria and Sudan.

  • This project follows a smaller UK-funded Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) pilot project in which 290 migrants were assisted to return with dignity to their country of origin.

  • The current project will also allow for the sustainable reintegration of 75 vulnerable migrants, including single-parent families, migrants with medical needs and victims of human trafficking.

  • The UK is also funding, alongside contributions from other EU Member States, an Assisted Voluntary Returns and Reintegration project for unaccompanied minors in Greece.

  • The UK National Audit Office recently estimated that the cost of a failed asylum seeker could range between £3,000 and £25,000 for a single adult depending on their profile and case type. The upper end cost of a family, which is forcibly returned after being refused asylum can be up to £60,000.

  • Addressing migration is one of the priorities of the Greek EU Presidency.

Published 19 February 2014
Last updated 20 February 2014 + show all updates
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