Reintegration & Return NEWSLETTER 14â€”DECEMBER 2013
FIGURES 2013 The trend of the previous years
continues, as the number of returnees supported by Caritas International increased again in 2013. Until October this year, 637 people (381 cases) returned with reintegration support.
Caritas International Department integration after voluntary return Liefdadigheidstraat 43 1210 Brussel
Head of Social Programmes Anne Dussart +32 2 229 36 04 email@example.com
Coordinator Sofie De Mot
Africa & Balkan: Stefanie Duysens
+32 2 229 36 46 firstname.lastname@example.org
+32 2 211 10 52 email@example.com
This provisional number equals the total number of returnees in 2012. Between January and October, 198 cases returned with a reintegration budget financed by the national fund. Another 193 cases received additional European STAVR 2013 budget, of which 123 invested this budget into a business. In addition, 25 cases received support within the ERSO project (European Reintegration Support Organisations), and 18 cases within the ERI project (European Reintegration Initiative). While Kosovo ranked number one on the list of top destinations last year, Russia took over this position in 2013. Since the beginning of this year, Kosovars can no longer apply for reintegration support. The number of returnees to Russia increased further in 2013. This group represents a quarter of all returnees who received reintegration support. Almost twice as
Armenia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka Hanne CouderĂŠ +32 2 609 06 53 firstname.lastname@example.org Asia & Middle East: Hermien Wittouck
Top Return Countries 2013*
Russia 149 pers 23% Others 341 pers 47%
Kazakhstan 69 pers 11% Arm enia 56 pers. 9%
Nepal 32 pers. 5%
Georgia 35 pers. 5%
* Until October 2013
200 +32 2 229 35 86 email@example.com
66% of the people who returned with reintegration support were rejected asylum seekers, while 17% decided to return before their asylum procedure was finished. Due to the implementation of the strict reintegration criteria, only a small minority (6%) of undocumented migrants who never applied for asylum received reintegration support.
Total number of returnees
West Africa & South America: Sandra Fernandez +32 2 229 36 02 firstname.lastname@example.org Ex-URSS (excepting Armenia): Thomas Goedgezelschap +32 2 229 36 50 email@example.com
many people returned to Kazakhstan compared to last year. This country now ranks second, followed by Armenia, Georgia and Nepal.
MISSION IN MOSCOW At the end of 2011, Caritas International Belgium and Caritas Moscow started their collaboration in the framework of the national and European reintegration project. While only a few people returned to Russia with reintegration support at that time, it is currently ranking number one among the top destinations. Most returnees live in the Chechen Republic, closely followed by other regions in the Northern Caucasus. Because of the strict measures towards local NGOs, Caritas has chosen to organize reintegration counselling from Moscow. As the statistics show, the number of returnees to Russia increased significantly in 2012 and 2013. Therefore, an ‘information exchange’ was organized in Moscow in April 2013 to evaluate the reintegration possibilities and to exchange experience.
The attending partners were Caritas International Belgium, Armenian Caritas and Caritas Moscow. The aim of this meeting was to bring in touch the relatively new reintegration partner, Caritas Moscow, with the more experienced Armenian Caritas. During this meeting the reintegration assistance process offered by Caritas Moscow was analyzed and adjusted where needed. During this one-week meeting we visited several returnees from Belgium in and around Moscow. Armenian Caritas joined these monitoring visits and was able to communicate directly with the returnees. It was not possible to visit returnees in the Northern Caucasus region due to the insecure situation. Although monitoring in that region is usually organised by telephone, Caritas Moscow visits each year once or twice the people who returned to this area. ♦
KAZAKHSTAN: SUCCESSFUL REINTEGRATION In October 2013, a monitoring mission to Kazakhstan (Almaty) took place to monitor the reintegration programme. During one week Thomas Goedgezelschap (reintegration service CIB) and Jo Cools (Fedasil) visited 18 families who returned from Belgium between June 2012 and August 2013 with the support of Caritas International. The first aim of the mission was to understand the rein-
tegration possibilities in Kazakhstan after a long period of absence, and to identify the opportunities for returnees from Belgium. Secondly, we could meet the local reintegration partner, Caritas Almaty, and discuss the difficulties and possibilities after return. Since June 2012, Caritas Almaty assisted 108 people in their reintegration process. The role of this organisation is broader than only managing the reintegration budgets. Caritas Almaty also offers juridical assistance, helps returnees to close rent agreements and sales documents, supports parents in their search for schools for their children etc. As regards the micro business support, the majority of the returnees starts a business which is based on their former professional experience. Due to the high prices in Almaty and limited financial resources, most returnees try to avoid a big financial risk by investing the budget in a safe business with which they are familiar. As most people have some professional experience already, they do not always ask for extensive business support. It is striking that all returnees from Belgium belong to ethnical minorities, and that they mention this to be the main reason for their emigration to Belgium. Kazakhstan
is a multinational country where 105 different nationalities live together. Since the end of the Sovjet Union the number of minorities living in Kazakhstan is decreasing yearly, while the number of ethnical Kazakh people is increasing. This demographical evolution manifests itself (according to the ex-migrants) in daily life by racism and inequality towards them. The biggest minority groups among the returnees are Russian, Uygur and Kurd people, who have lived in Kazakhstan their entire life and are Kazakhstan citizens. In general, the visited returnees were positive about the received reintegration support and the assistance from Caritas Almaty. Most of them emphasized not wanting to emigrate again in the future, both for the well being of their children as for themselves. ♦
COUNTRY IN THE PICTURE: MOROCCO! In September, Sandra Fernandez visited the people who recently returned from Europe to Morocco. She met ms. Rachida, who started her own bakery project with assistance of Caritas International and the local partner organisation Fondation Orient-Occident.
Before her return, Rachida planned to make pastry in Morocco in order to support her family. She wanted to rent a place where she could prepare all kinds of pastries to sell them at the market. Before leaving Morocco, baking had always been her only source of income. Since she did not have any opportunity to learn new skills in Belgium, starting a bakery was the only option for her.
Rachida came to Belgium in 2008 to move in with her son. Not long after, several problems started to trouble their relationship. When her son eventually abandoned her, she was taken care of by the Moroccan community in Brussels. Hoping for a better future for her family, Rachida had left her two daughters in Tangiers. They stayed with their aunt in a small studio in the meantime. As her plan had turned out differently than expected, she decided to return to Morocco and her daughters after four years. Knowing her perspectives were limited and emotionally exhausted, she shared her story with Caritas International.
Together with Caritas International and Fondation Orient -Occident, Rachida developed her project, which was later approved by Fedasil. She was exceptionally granted the maximum budget to launch her small business in Tangier. Soon after her arrival in Morocco, Rachida realized that this budget was insufficient to cover all required costs. It was impossible to finance both the rent and the necessary equipment. During a long discussion with Fondation Orient-Occident she could further develop her plan. Rachida did not want to give up. Encouraged by her daughters, she decided to rebuild a small part of her studio as a bakery instead of renting a separate room. This adjustment enabled her to spend the entire reintegration budget on material expenses. In September Caritas International visited her studio in Tangiers. Rachida was adding the finishing touches to her bakery. She felt happy to be reunified with her daughters and being able to maintain them. Now she can finally start baking, she hopes she’ll be able to pay for their studies and give them a better future. Good luck, Rachida! ♦
A NEW WIND THROUGH NORTHERN IRAQ At the end of May 2013, Sofie De Mot and Hermien Wittouck from Caritas International and return counsellor Sofie Neel from Fedasil visited northern Iraq in the framework of a monitoring mission. The number of returnees who received reintegration support increased significantly since the beginning of the partnership in 2011. The main purpose of this mission was visiting people who returned with support of the reintegration programme of Caritas International and the local organisation ETTC. In this way, we could explore and evaluate the reintegration possibilities in this specific region. The mission started in Erbil, where the main office of the partner organisation ETTC (European Training and Technology Centre) is located. Erbil is the capital of the autonomous northern Kurdish region (KRG), which is largely independent from the Iraqi government. ETTC is specialized in organizing trainings, such as language courses, IT and business advice sessions, as well as offering reintegration support to people who return voluntarily. Returnees frequently follow a business start up course in the training centre before starting up a business (shop, bazaar, garage, grocery shop, farm…). A good business preparation appears to be indispensable, especially due to the quick developments in northern Iraq. This region is considered relatively safe compared to other parts of Iraq, especially the troubled region around Baghdad and in southern Iraq. Therefore, several people move or travel to the KRG to escape, sometimes temporarily, from the threats in neighbouring regions. Another consequence is that companies and hotel chains are more inclined to invest in this region. Due to this tendency, new jobs for skilled or English speaking people are often created. People without a degree, professional experience of language skills, however, still face many difficulties in searching a suitable job or to start a micro business, also because of the increasing prices and competition on the market. The different monitoring visits indicated clearly that support of family or a social network is very important to allow the returnee to readapt to his/her society that is rap-
idly changing. Besides this social support, it is of equal importance to provide preparatory counselling in Belgium to manage one’s expectations. The third step is professional support in Iraq immediately upon arrival, as well as on the longer term to support the returnee in searching a suitable job or training. In Duhok, we visited Omar at his restaurant. Last year, he decided to return to his hometown after having lived in Belgium for over 7 years, despite his fondness of Belgium. He gained a lot of catering experience in several Belgian restaurants and decided to use this knowhow to open a restaurant together with a business partner. The reintegration budget was used to buy a share in the restaurant where he is now working as a cook. In time, he would like to increase his investment if the business is profitable enough. Together with ETTC, he made a business plan and discussed the different options of investing the budget. Due to the expensive renting prices and investments, he soon realized that a restaurant of his own, without partner, was not realistic. Thanks to the current cooperation, he can earn a stable income and rebuild his life in Iraq. His story is successful, but ETTC also pointed out that such investments often involve a substantial financial risk. Therefore, the option of job placement is always discussed, especially with returnees who do not have any professional experience or degree. Job placement implies that an employer hires someone who lacks experience, in exchange for a salary subsidy. In this way, the person can gradually learn a job instead of starting a rather risky micro business. This option proved to be a more sustainable choice for Adil, aged 19, who is now working as an employee in a grocery shop. Adil used part of his reintegration budget to buy products for the shop and the other part was added to his monthly salary. This arrangement compensated for his lack of experience and convinced the shop owner. If his contract cannot be prolonged in the future, he will at least have gained professional experience and insight into running a small business. ♦