Image from a SPEAK project video. Credit: IOM
Image from a SPEAK project video. Credit: IOM

SPEAK is a project by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in which migrants who participated in assisted voluntary return to their home countries tell their stories of reintegration.

Migrants who decided to go back to their countries of origin through programmes of assisted voluntary return tell of their experiences, difficulties and goals in the SPEAK project (Strengthening and Promoting Engagement on Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration).

The project was started by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to promote accurate information regarding the agency's assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programmes, by letting migrants who participated and returned to their home countries tell their stories.

Help for going back home

"When we migrate, we choose to do so for different reasons: some of us move in search of better opportunities, and others may leave to seek protection from conflict and persecution. Sometimes the reasons to migrate are mixed. Similarly, some of us may feel the desire or the need to return home," said IOM.

"This can be triggered by the wish to reunite with family, by changed conditions in the host country or country of origin, or by the lack of legal status. This means that, in many circumstances, returning home can be as challenging as leaving in the first place," the organization added.

Through its AVRR programmes, the organisation provides administrative, logistical and financial support to migrants in need who choose to return home, but lack the means to do so.

Peshang's story

SPEAK gathers the stories of migrants who have returned to their home countries, from Spain to Senegal, from Greece to Iraq or even from Sudan to Ethiopia. Peshang, who returned to Iraq from Greece, is one of them. "I decided to come back after my parents returned to Iraq," he said in a video. "I had no hope of staying in Europe, so I turned to IOM to help me return home."

Peshang is now the owner of a store, which was opened partly with the organization's support. He said now his family sees him "building my future instead of looking back in regret." IOM said its AVRR programmes are "an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach to migration management."

Migrants who benefit from the programmes include those who have had their asylum requests refused, as well as victims of human trafficking, unaccompanied minors and other individuals with various vulnerabilities. Since 1979, IOM has assisted 1.5 million migrants. 

Its AVRR programmes aim to provide "sustainable reintegration of migrants returning to a variety of contexts." Services offered include information and support in the hosting country, assistance during travel and at arrival in the country of origin, and economic support in the reintegration process.

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