Movement and Assisted Migration
IOM has been providing voluntary return transportation to and from Iraq and its immediate region since 1990, assisting over one million people in total. Operations began following the First Gulf War, when roughly 165,000 migrant workers stranded in the region were provided with assistance to return to Asian and African countries; many more Iraqis were also assisted to voluntarily return home from the neighboring region, and subsequently from host countries in Europe. Since the reestablishment of the Iraq Mission in 2003, IOM has ensured coordinated support for migration flows and for humanitarian assistance, facilitated the voluntary return and reintegration of those Iraqi nationals wishing to travel back to their home country, provided resettlement support to Iraqi refugees, and assisted in the evacuation of third country nationals (TCNs) affected by conflicts and violence in Iraq. These activities are carried out in coordination with the Iraqi central governments and local institutions as well as with relevant UN agencies, non-governmental partners and IOM missions in all countries involved in these operations.
Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration
Working in close cooperation with the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) and the Bureau of Migration and Displacement (BMD) in the Kurdistan Region, IOM Iraq provides voluntary return and reintegration assistance to Iraqi migrants who wish to return voluntarily to their communities of origin or any other location in Iraq. Main countries of return are The Netherlands, Germany, UK, Norway, Switzerland, France and Sweden.
IOM Iraq assistance also includes the counseling of migrants in host countries, the provision of pre-departure relevant information on the situation in Iraq - including medical assistance and reintegration opportunities, notification of Iraqi authorities and relevant transit clearance from neighbouring country authorities, air transportation to neighbouring country airports, airport assistance upon arrival, reinstallation grant payments and overland or air transportation thereafter to the final destination in Iraq. For vulnerable cases and people in need of specific support, specialized assistance is arranged, such as medical escorts in transit countries, and in Iraq.
Upon arrival in Iraq, eligible returnees can benefit from tailored post-return reinsertion and reintegration support that contributes to the sustainability of returns. Types of reintegration assistance can include provision for specific information on the possibilities in the country through country sheets and leaflets, self‐employment (small business setup), training (educational/vocational), salary subsidy/job placements, referrals, and house allowance. Monitoring and evaluation are also essential components of the programme. The reintegration assistance provided by IOM Iraq to returnees in Iraq is funded by the respective host country’s government. Therefore, the assistance received by returnees varies in scope and extent from country to country. The IOM Iraq support is provided through the provision of information pre-departure, extensive and extensive counseling upon arrival and provision of individual reintegration assistance, according to the specific needs and skills of each returnee.
In addition to providing individuals with the necessary resources and opportunities for personal reintegration, IOM Iraq also turns its focus to addressing the needs of the surrounding community. Community Assistance Projects (CAPs) are small infrastructure projects ranging between 5,000 and 50,000 USD. By developing the infrastructure of local communities to which returnees are returning, CAPs help to ease the strain of absorption upon already stressed public resources. Schools, Primary Health Care Centres, roads, bridges, and water and sewer systems are imperative for the sustainability of a community, and are especially impacted by even subtle fluctuations in population. Thus, CAPs help communities successfully meet the new challenges associated with reintegration.
In coordination with the IOM office in Jordan and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), IOM Iraq provides movement assistance to Iraqi refugees entitled to be resettled to other countries, mainly the United States but also Australia, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and France. The assistance includes liaison with different immigration departments of receiving countries, coordination with embassies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for visa and travel document issuance, coordination with UNHCR and local authorities in Iraq, travel arrangements, medical screening prior to departure, and follow up with transit and receiving missions to confirm safe arrival.
Assistance to Third Country Nationals (TCNs)
Since March 2003, IOM Iraq has been providing assistance to Third Country Nationals (TCNs) stranded in Iraq who are willing to voluntarily return to their countries of origin. The programme focuses primarily on persons whose countries of origin may not have the financial means to assist them. A request for assistance to return, based on the principle of voluntariness, is always the impetus for IOM assistance, whether back to Iraq, in the case of its nationals abroad, or out from the region in the case of TCNs. IOM Iraq provides coordination with relevant IOM missions, counseling to migrants, notification for national authorities, relevant clearances for movement, all arrangements for transportation and assistance upon departure, and assistance in countries of transit and final destination. For those in need of medical assistance, arrangements are sought through local health service providers for adequate care/medical escorts en route and upon arrival/departure.
IOM has been implementing the “Multi-Action Programme for Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Iraqi Victims of Trafficking” programme since 2007. This programme aims to address increasing needs for enhanced identification, and protection of victims of trafficking (VoT), as well as prevention of trafficking, in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, through a set of complimentary measures at the regional and national levels. Based on extensive experience in providing return assistance to irregular migrants and other vulnerable groups, IOM field offices across the region are able to quickly assess and select the most appropriate and voluntary return assistance packages, linking pre-departure, transportation and post arrival arrangements.
Since 1997, IOM has worked actively to counter trafficking in persons and has implemented more than 500 counter-trafficking projects in 85 countries, partnering with government institutions, civil society, UN agencies and international organizations. IOM has directly assisted over 20,000 trafficked persons and, through the IOM Global Human Trafficking Database, has gained unique experience and collated significant information on human trafficking. In the Middle East, IOM takes a comprehensive approach to trafficking in persons within the wider context of migration management.
Job Matching Assistance – MAGNET II Project
IOM is currently implementing the MAGNET II Project, an initiative that aims to facilitate the sustainable reintegration of Iraqi nationals who voluntarily return from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Its main goal is to promote and enhance the returnees’ long-term socio-economic reintegration. The project is currently operational in Erbil, Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah where IOM MAGNET II Focal Points assist the returnees with placements in private sector employment and provide training to equip them to take up these employment opportunities.