Coordination of the Assistance for Voluntary Return to Afghanistan

1 April 2003 - 31 August 2006

From April 2003 to August 2006 IOM Vienna was entrusted with the implementation of the project "Coordination of the Assistance for Voluntary Return to Afghanistan", which was financed by the European Refugee Fund (ERF) and the Austrian Ministry of Interior (MOI). The project aimed at establishing a link between return counselling in Austria, the logistics of the return and the arrival at the country of origin. This programme was available to all return counselling centres in Austria, whether governmental or NGOs, which provide counselling to Afghans. The target group was comprised of Afghan citizens in Austria who wished to return home and for whom voluntary return was a meaningful option. The reintegration measures offered contributed to the success and sustainability of the return and a new start for the returnees, which was an important aspect of the programme.

The project offered the following services:

  • The IOM Vienna office compiled monthly informational letters containing up-to-date information on return modalities, the general socio-economic situation in the regions of Afghanistan, and available reintegration measures. This informational letter was distributed to a network of administrative structures, counselling centres and Afghan associations in Austria.
  • A profile form distributed by IOM Vienna to the counselling centres was filled out by the potential returnees during counselling. This form determined their skills and needs and was consequently conveyed through IOM Vienna to IOM Kabul for appropriate reintegration measures as per the data provided in the form.
  • IOM Vienna organized the return trip, which included obtaining documents and ensuring pre-departure, transit as well as reception assistance.
  • IOM Vienna paid out the reintegration allowance.
  • The reintegration allowance was covered by the MOI and was set as follows: EUR 500 for single persons; EUR 800 for married couples; EUR 100 for each child; EUR 1,200 maximum per family
  • IOM Kabul offered reception assistance to the returnees and, when needed, over-night stay. The office additionally organized returnees' onward journeys and, if necessary, escorted the returnees to their final destinations. At the same time, IOM Kabul assisted the returnees with immigration procedures and provided information and counselling e.g. mine awareness and legal, housing, medical and educational situation.
  • IOM Kabul linked up with available reintegration programmes. Training and qualification programmes consisted of language and/or computer courses or vocational training in the construction trade such as carpentry, masonry, painting, plumbing, welding and electrician. Upon completion of a vocational course, a tool kit was provided to the course participants to support their transition into professional life in Afghanistan.
  • At the end of March 2004, IOM Kabul began offering non-repayable grants of up to a maximum of EUR 1,700 for business start-ups to returnees interested in this option and assisted them in developing a viable business plan.
  • The reintegration activities implemented by IOM Kabul were carried out within the framework of the project "Return, Reception and Reintegration of Afghan Nationals to Afghanistan", which was mainly co-financed by the European Commission.

UNHCR's Mass Information Updates
The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees issued bi-monthly Mass Information Updates for returnees to Afghanistan. These updates contained information on security, repatriation and assistance in reintegration and were published in English and the two most common languages in Afghanistan, Pashto and Dari.