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Martin Geiger (2009)

Voluntary Returns to Albania: The Management of Migration Using the Example of the Return Programmes of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 34, 3-4/2009, p. 275-298, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398, DOI: 10.1007/s01253-010-0046-x

Abstract: The mechanisms and impacts of programmes for the voluntary return and reintegration of irregular migrants and rejected asylum applicants are presented and discussed using empirical findings which have been observed in recent years on voluntary returns supported by state and international agencies and other components of “migration management” in Albania. Voluntary return programmes have been offered and implemented for many years by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The IOM can be regarded as the most important player worldwide in this and other programme areas of migration management. The Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) or Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programmes (VARRPs) which it offers provide to migrants with irregular residential status in the EU or in other destination states, or to asylum-seekers or refugees who have been rejected there or whose deportation is no longer temporarily suspended, the possibility to return to their countries of origin not by force (through being deported), but so to speak “voluntarily” (allegedly of their own free will although the authorities nonetheless require them to leave). To this end, they are granted a considerable range of return assistance and reintegration services. These support services are financed by the European Commission via various financing programmes (including the EU’s Return Fund and the AENEAS thematic migration management programme), by the Member States of the EU and by other important destination countries of migrants and asylum-seekers, such as Switzerland. AVR and VARRP are now not only regarded as an effective alternative to more cost-intensive detention followed by coercive deportation; the voluntary return programmes also constitute a major element of the management of migration, and in this context they are now also being discussed as a contribution towards development cooperation. The article aims to provide a critical stock-take and evaluation of these programmes and of their significance in the context of EU-ropean and international migration policy.

* peer-reviewed article (original German title: Freiwillige Rückkehr nach Albanien: Das Management von Migration am Beispiel der Rückführungsprogramme der Internationalen Organisation für Migration (IOM))

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