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UK funded Greek migrant voluntary return project

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


A ddressing migration is one of the priorities of the Greek EU Presidency. The British Embassy announced the launch of a £2 million Assistance for the Voluntary Return and Reintegration of Returnees project. 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. This new 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. It will also allow for the sustainable reintegration of 75 vulnerable migrants, including single-parent families, migrants with medical needs and victims of human trafficking.

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 program 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” Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias stated.

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.

“The British Government is pleased to be supporting the IOM by funding this project. Our assessment is that the UK remains a primary final destination country for many of the irregular migrants in Greece and British funding for this programme is ultimately about reducing illegal migration to the UK. This is why we are co-operating with the Greek Government as it faces the continuing challenge of illegal migration.” British Ambassador John Kittmer said in his opening speech.

Funding for this program emphasizes 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 program 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.

“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 & Common Wealth 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” Deputy Director General of IOM, Ambassador Laura Thompson added.