Return & reintegration
Number 04-july 2008
Table of Contents: Return in the first semester of 2008
Return in the first semester of
Round Table with Minister Arena The substantial increase in the number of Since January 185 persons, including also
returns of the last trimester of 2007 has the files handed in in December 2007, re-
Women encounter specific prob- been confirmed, since the beginning of turned to their home country and could bene-
lems when they return the year 2008, as could be expected. Al- fit from the reintegration programme. April
though the rumours about regularization (43 persons), May (36 persons) and June (35
Question & Answer: Armenia in The Netherlands caused an immediate persons) predict an amount of over 400 per-
stop to voluntary return in 2007, this was sons who will have been helped by the end
not the case in Belgium. As a result of the of 2008. Some “stronger” countries are stick-
efforts towards communication and popu- ing out since the beginning of this year: Ne-
larization of the programme of voluntary pal (16 persons), Ukraine (37), Mongolia
return, as well as the quick transfer of (15), Brazil (26). In a lesser degree Kir-
information between the migration organi- ghizistan and Kosovo, but also Guinea and
zations Caritas International Belgium has Togo are being enquired into.
been able to have helped more people by
the 30th of June 2008 than in the whole of The feedback from the partners as well as
the year 2007. from the clients is very positive, despite of
the fact that some cases make us think that a
At this moment, our cell works in 43 coun- better psychological preparation before re-
tries of which a growing part are African turning could avoid a lot of suffering during
countries. When the voluntary return in these the first weeks after arrival. In some coun-
countries is difficult due to different reasons, tries, like Africa, returning is perceived as a
Caritas Belgium can always count on solid disgrace, a failure for the families who staid
and experienced partners, often specialized behind with an utopian vision of Europe
in supporting people who want to start a mi- where one can “pick up money”…
cro-enterprise. This is the case in Guinea,
Cameroon and especially in Togo, a country
where Caritas recently went on a mission.
Recently we also received requests for Ni-
ger, Mauritania, Liberia, Tanzania, Burundi,
Morocco, Congo-Brazzaville and Angola. Thomas Jézéquel
Anne Dussart: +32 2 2293604
Bart Cosyns: +32 2 2293602
Annelieke Carlier: +32 2 2293586
Thomas Jezequel: +32 2 2111052
RETURN & REÏNTEGRATION-NUMBER 4- juli 2008 2
Round table with Minister Arena
On the 26th of June Maria Arena, Minister of Social Inte-
gration, Pensions, and Large Cities, organized a Round
Table conversation about voluntary return and reintegra-
tion. Caritas International was asked to participate on the
basis of its outstanding expertise in this field.
In the morning Caritas International clarified its recommenda-
tions to the Minister. In our experience (2006-2008), care for
quality, a good cooperation with Fedasil, a strong interna-
tional network, and a focus on vulnerable groups, are key
factors for success. Nevertheless, it is very important to be
able to handle larger budgets and to maintain flexibility
adapted to the needs of the returnee. Furthermore, long-term
programmes have a better chance of results. Also temporary
thematic initiatives (e.g. the ‘Roma’ or geographical demarca-
tion) need to be considered.
tions. In this way the wildly theoretically discussed issue of
‘migration and development’ gets a concrete answer.
In the afternoon the participants were divided into two working
groups. One group discussed how to improve the integration
of ’voluntary return’ in social guidance. The other group de-
bated on the important elements in the preparation and the
follow up of the returnee.
In this latter work group Caritas profiled its vision on the
needs of the target group. It is our experience that flexibility,
both regarding the budget and the form of social guidance, is
After all, the target group is very diverse: Caritas helps asy-
lum seekers, as well as rejected asylum seekers and persons Annelieke Carlier
without papers (the most vulnerable group as they have never
entered an asylum procedure). The degree of education goes
from illiterate to highly qualified. Another example is the social
network: family and friends can be of great importance in
giving the returnees support, especially after arrival in their
countries, and here as well we encounter big differences.
The above mentioned flexibility is, as far as the budget is
concerned, of cardinal importance. There needs to be a mar-
gin to adjust the budgets and when necessary also to in-
crease them: the possibilities with €700 are de facto not the
same in all countries. At this moment there is no possibility to
give decent support to those people with promising business
plans, not even in the form of a loan. The flexibility with re-
gard to social guidance is a second necessity; here Caritas
has its own strategy. On a daily basis we aim at higher quality
guidance, both in Belgium and after arrival in the country of
return. The social service on the spot needs to be able to
refer the returnee within a network of help organizations with
regard to education, health, but also micro credit organiza-
Voor meer info, zie de website van Fedasil: http://www.fedasil.be/home/nieuws_detail/i/15861/
RETURN & REÏNTEGRATION-NUMBER 4- juli 2008 3
Women encouter specific problems when they return
The profile type of the average person who voluntarily re- The lack of training and education are also obstacles that make
turns to his country of origin is a 31,2 year old man. How- the reintegration process more difficult. That is why they need
ever, this should not make us forget the specific problems specific guidance and relief. The team of Caritas International
single women encounter when they return to their country together with its partners in the countries of origin keep watch
after having lived in Belgium for years, even though out of over the fact that this is actually happening.
136 leavers they are only a minority.
In the year 2007 the cell voluntary return and reintegration of
Caritas International helped 56 single women or women with The help of the local partners cannot solely exist of profes-
children. 35 of them effectively returned to their country with a sional help. There also needs to be social follow up. And there
reintegration project and social guidance. always has to be someone who people can talk to, to help
bearing the shock of returning.
Often it regards pregnant women without an income who want
to return to give birth in the presence of their family. But there Moreover the function of the mediator between the returnee
are other harrowing reasons as well for women to return. A and the social environment to which he or she returns is very
Rumanian woman returned to Tirgu Mures after she had been important because the returnee’s environment does often not
given false promises about her job in Belgium and was in dan- plainly except the returnee and even accuses him or her of
ger to end up in prostitution. With the help of Caritas she was returning empty handed. The opposite is also possible. That a
able to find a job in Rumania. returnee returns richer than those who staid behind and is be-
ing accused of not wanting to share anything.
A Togolese woman returned after she had been abandoned by
her husband. The woman returned to Togo with her children Several of the local Caritas organization’s social workers are
and found a house there. She followed a training course and women. This helps to build a strong relationship of trust and to
received help for starting up a small business. increase the chances of a successful reintegration.
In another West African country a local Caritas will help a sero- It happens frequently that women find themselves in difficult
positive woman in a very confidential and discrete way. Caritas situations in Belgium but hesitate about returning because of
needs to be careful because there is still a big taboo on sero- family pressure (often from brothers). They count on the
positive people. They are still being stigmatized. women’s wages in Belgium and want them to send money
regularly to the family in the countries of origin.
In Mongolia the local Caritas did a close follow up of a preg-
nant woman. The woman had health problems and had previ- The myth of the European eldorado still exists. The reality of
ously also been a victim of aggression. Thanks to the good the migrants in Europe clashes with this image and causes
medical follow up and an operation the baby was born prema- human tragedies.
turely but in good health.
That is why Caritas focuses directly on women with several
The men often are capable of quickly resuming their lives in projects, providing training, professional help, refuges for vic-
their country of origin, but the women are much more vulner- tims of domestic violence, and help with reintegration.
able. They are being looked at differently and are often treated
in a hostile way by their family when they return alone and Men
Single women with children or pregnant women are considered
to be extra vulnerable. That is why, for them, there exists a
reintegration fund to cover the extra costs and needs (housing,
Nevertheless we should not forget that men sometimes are
being discriminated as well. For example the micro-credits to
start a small business are often not accessible for men be-
cause women are often considered to be more reliable and
better at paying back.
RETURN & REÏNTEGRATION-NUMBER 4- juli 2008 4
Question & answer
4. Are there organizations in Armenia that can help an ap-
In every newsletter we publish a question we received with plicant with the drawing up of a decent “business plan”?
regard to the issue of returning and reintegration, and we
give the answer. The specialists of the banks involved and other finance compa-
nies offer consultations to inform people. There are other or-
ganizations as well that help with the drawing up of a business
“An Armenian man who has been staying in Belgium with his plan but their services are not for free. A valuable plan can be
family since 1998 wants to return to his home country. He is drawn up in cooperation with the “National Centre for Small
interested in the reintegration project because on his possible and Medium Entrepreneurship Development” (SME) and some
return he wants to start his own business. However according other organizations like “Chamber of Commerce and Industry
to him the premium awarded to a family, 1.750 euros, is not of the Republic of Armenia”.
enough to realize this. He wonders what the possibilities are to
get a loan in Armenia.”
More information can be found at www.banks.am/ and in the
1. The first question he asks himself is whether, besides
Country Sheet that can be found at the CI-project’s website
banks, there are other organizations that could possibly (Country of Return information – www.cri-project.eu).
give him loan.
We were able to find the information asked for in the ‘Country
Sheet’. This document was drawn up by the Armenian partner,
Mission Armenia, together with Caritas Armenia. This docu-
ment is a collection of general and practical information.
Amongst other things it gives an overview of the different steps
that need to be taken to start a business, and which conditions
need to be fulfilled. We also found a whole list of banks and
other finance companies. Together with our local partners we
selected two of them and looked for the conditions to be
granted a loan. The two organizations are FINCA Armenia, an
institution that provides micro-credits, and the finance company
2. What financial and administrative conditions need to be
fulfilled by the applicant to be granted a loan from FINCA
and from NORVIC?
To be able to get a loan in Armenia one needs to be an Arme-
nian citizen and to be in possession of all necessary docu-
ments for this. Most banks do not ask a starting capital but ask
a collateral (for example a house). Furthermore, there always
needs to be a certain sum for the registration of the business.
3. What is the maximum amount of money one can loan,
what is the repayment period and how high is the interest
Depending on the warrantee FINCA loans an amount of
225.000 Armenian dollars (AMD) up to 10 million AMD
(between 473 and 210.000 euros). The repayment period is
NORVIK does not give loans to starting businesses. Also de-
pending on the collateral NORVIK loans an amount starting
from 6.169.291 Armenian dollars. The repayment period is 5
years. The interest rate on the loan depends on the type of
loan and lies between 10 and 30 percent.