Al Jazeera English highlights IOM's assistance for Iraqi returnees through its Magnet II Project

About 710,000 refugees and economic migrants have entered the European Union this year, and authorities are struggling to provide, shelter and language training. The job fair program, run by the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM), is an EU-supported effort to encourage those denied asylum to return to their countries of origin voluntarily, rather than staying on illegally.

The project, called Magnet II, is funded by the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, France and the United Kingdom. Available to Iraqi nationals who choose to return voluntarily from these countries to the Kurdish region in Iraq, it operates a database that matches employers in Iraq with those returning. Magnet II has so far helped 39 people find employment since April 2014, as carpenters or sales associates at local businesses and multinationals, the IOM said in a statement issued Friday.

About 100 people attended the fair in Erbil on Wednesday; other job events are planned this year to take place in Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah. “That’s really the goal of the project, to capitalize on the skills they may have learned in Europe, often foreign languages, or before their stay,” said Emma Proust, project assistant at IOM. The number of Iraqi nationals seeking asylum in the EU has risen rapidly, from 10,740 last year to 21,310 in 2014, according to the United Nations' refugee agency. And now, some countries are making it more difficult for Iraqi citizens to be granted refugee status. Belgium’s foreign ministry, for example, no longer automatically grants asylum to migrants from Baghdad. 

Given the large number of people heading to Europe, applications for asylum can take up to two years to be processed. Many people struggle to find employment as their cases languish. Others have entered the EU legally, but have overstayed their visas and found jobs clandestinely. The IOM's program offers to help returning people in both situations. A link to the original Al Jazeera article can be found here.

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