Sweden - Return and reintegration
Red Cross: Ensuring
voluntary return in safety and dignity.
Principle 8: Assist migrants in return
Return to the place of origin is not the necessary end or solution of migration. Migrants may prefer to stay where they are, for an extended period or permanently. While providing counseling and informing migrants about their options, National Societies cannot and shall not decide what solution is the best, and must at all times maintain their impartiality, neutrality and independence. When migrants do return they face particular challenges; to assist and protect them, cooperation and agreement between National Societies in countries of destination and return is essential.
The Swedish Red Cross has extensive experience in providing assistance to migrants returning to their country of origin. Such activities are conducted in accordance with the principles of the 2009 Policy on Migration of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and its Advisory Note on ”actions to assist migrants in return”. In this regard, the Swedish Red Cross has adopted a strictly humanitarian approach and only focuses on migrants’ individual needs and interests, without promoting or encouraging return as a preferred solution, but rather helping them to explore all available options and their consequences, thereby empowering them to make informed decisions about their own future.
To this aim, the Swedish Red Cross introduced in 2003 provision of counselling for rejected asylum seekers and other migrants that may be living in the country irregularly. Counsellors thus explain, where appropriate, the reasoning behind and the consequences of a negative decision on their asylum claim; exposes the different steps of the return process handled by the Swedish Migration Board; provides information about the situation in the country of return; offers psychological and practical support; and informs about services available both to prepare the return while in Sweden and upon arrival in the country of return.Over the past five years, the Swedish Red Cross had developed close collaborations with sister National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in countries of origin to enhance the return preparatory process, provide humanitarian and reintegration assistance upon return and allow for follow up of individual cases. This assistance on the ground is provided based on an individual needs and vulnerabilities assessment conducted by Swedish Red Cross staff and the beneficiaries themselves. This project, initially conducted for migrants returning to Kosovo, Serbia and Iraq, has been extended in 2010 to 6 other countries for which partnerships (in Macedonia and Russia) and informal cooperation (in Afghanistan, Armenia, Lebanon and Syria) with National Societies allows for provision of accurate country of origin information and other relevant data gathered directly by the Red Cross and Red Crescent in that country.
Photo: IFRC/MENA Zone Iraq Office.
Iraqi migrant who, having returned home, benefited from the assistance of the Swedish Red Cross and the Iraqi Red Crescent.
To facilitate the timely exchange of information on countries of return, the Swedish Red Cross, in collaboration with the Swiss and German Red Crosses, has set up a Return Network with an online platform which allows for members to share experiences and knowledge about countries and regions of origin, as well as to create a connexion on individual cases between National Societies in sending countries and those in receiving states.
Based on its experience, the Swedish Red Cross also conducts advocacy activities towards national authorities to improve the return process. In this regard, it made a number of key recommendations and raised issues concerning a specifically vulnerable group of returnees: women, alone or within a family, returning to Kosovo.
The activities of the Swedish Red Cross on Return are co-funded by the European Return Fund.