In addition to a number of voluntary return schemes, the German government also supports a series of reintegration projects in various regions around the world. These initiatives are designed to get people up and running with their new lives back in their home countries.
A growing number of migrants to Europe are choosing to return to their countries of origin, making the most of a number of voluntary return programs that offer financial incentives. InfoMigrants reported on such programs in Germany earlier in December 2017.
There are also reintegration programs offering further assistance as returning migrants settle back into their home countries. These move away from cash incentives and are aimed at helping those who choose to return home to make a fresh start.
Here's an overview of the reintegration programs offered by the German government and its partners:
European Reintegration Network (ERIN)
ERIN is an initiative run by several European partner states, managed by the Netherlands and financed by the European Union. People from 16 regions around the world qualify for this reintegration program, including migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Sudan, and parts of Iraq.
The program offers support at your destination, including vocational training, help with setting up a new business, and medical advice. The support takes place in kind – there is no exchange of money involved. The extent of support you might receive through ERIN depends on several factors, including the length of your stay in Germany and whether you are returning with family members or alone. The service providers you will deal with are usually local, non-government organizations.
There is no legal entitlement to qualifying for ERIN and each case is judged individually. Those who qualify can get between 700 and 2,800 euros worth of in-kind assistance at their new homes. Those considered to be vulnerable (such as the elderly, people with disabilities, pregnant women, single mothers, and underage migrants) may receive additional support.
The International Psychosocial Organization (Ipso) is a German-based humanitarian organization with a branch in Afghanistan focusing on mental health issues. Ipso is a non-governmental, non-profit and non-political organization, and is open to people of all backgrounds, regardless of ethnicity, religion, race, gender or political affiliation.
Ipso has a Psychosocial Counseling and Mental Health Center in the Afghan capital Kabul, which is open six days a week during business hours. Ipso welcomes individuals with all kinds of problems, from personal stress to trauma suffered during the conflict in Afghanistan. Its methods include psychosocial counselling as well as psychiatric treatment. All services are free of charge.
Perspektive Heimat (Perspective Home)
Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) set up the Perspektive Heimat initiative to support migrants upon their voluntary return to their homes in Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt.
The initiative works with different government bodies in these regions, with goals including vocational training, assistance in job-seeking and other ways to come out of unemployment. The program is also being rolled out in other countries with high volumes of returnees. Thousands of people have made use of the program to date.
Somalia Reintegration Program (SRP)
The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) has introduced the SRP initiative to support the Somalian government and local communities with the reintegration of internally displaced people and returnees who have suffered under the civil war there.
The program offers help in starting your own business, including training opportunities, start-up kits as well as the admission to microcredits with local finance systems. It also facilitates various vocational training programs in carpentry, tailoring, electrics or gastronomy as well as solar technology.
URA is a reintegration project designed specifically for migrants returning to Kosovo. It offers reintegration assistance based on an assessment of individual needs. This can include free social counseling, help with finding a job, one-time financial assistance (for things like medical costs and living expenses), language courses, tutoring for children and minors, vocational training, help in setting up a business and other forms of support.
There is no legal entitlement to receive URA support, and each case is judged on its own merit. People who are considered to be vulnerable are more like to succeed. You will need to bring all your pieces of documentation, including those referring to your asylum procedure in Germany (so-called "BÜMA"). You should also bring the birth certificates of all your children who were born in Germany as well as documentation specifying the details of their German school enrolment (if this applies to you).
You are expected to have spent at least six months in Germany before your return and can only apply to receive assistance with URA if you lived in the following federal German states: Baden-Württemberg, Berlin, Bremen, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony, Rhineland Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thuringia.
URA has its return center in the Kosovan capital Pristina, where your case will be processed. Due to high demand, there can be long waits, and potential applicants are advised to take this fact into consideration when coming to the URA offices.