Sharp increase in voluntary returns
1,019 people returned voluntarily to their home countries in 2009. That is an increase of 79 percent.
In order to protect the right to asylum and protection, it is important that persons who have received rejections to their asylum applications leave Norway. It is in the best interests of everyone that this takes place through voluntary return.
“It is great that more and more people are becoming aware of and using the options for voluntary return,” says Department Director Anne Siri Rustad at the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).
There are special return programmes for persons from Iraq, Afghanistan and Burundi, which include support for reintegration in the home country. The return and reintegration programme for Iraq (IRRINI) is probably the reason that Iraqis constitute by far the largest group to choose voluntary return.
Many Iraqis returned
A total of 373 Iraqis took advantage of the return programme. They each received a grant of NOK 10,000. The programme also offers reintegration support of up to NOK 25,000 per person. In 2009, the scheme was also extended to include an option of applying for up to NOK 20,000 in housing allowance. In addition, there are programmes that offer advice on finding a job, education or support to set up a business in the Kurdish areas of Iraq.
Extended return programme for other groups
From 1 September, most persons returning voluntarily to their home country were entitled to NOK 10,000 in reintegration support. The support is intended to make life easier in the initial period after returning. In the course of the first four months of the year, 218 people received support. The biggest groups are from Kosovo, Serbia, Nigeria and the Palestinian territories. The extended reintegration support is intended to make it easier for people who do not hold residence permits in Norway to return voluntarily. The return programme will continue in 2010.
Persons who receive support must pay it back if they apply for asylum or residence on other grounds in Norway at a later date.
Everyone who has received a final rejection of their application for asylum or is staying illegally in Norway is obliged to leave Norway. They can get help to return by applying for voluntary return. Persons who return voluntarily will not have to pay the cost of the trip and will not be accompanied by the police. The independent organisation International Organization for Migration provides practical assistance prior to departure and after arrival.