Addressing the issue of post-return stigma and creating a local ecosystem for reintegration can generate more opportunities for returnees, and improve the overall sustainability of reintegration.
Seven million Afghans are currently living abroad, making Afghanistan one of the key counties of return for most ERRIN Member States. Returning from Europe can create new opportunities, both for the individual and his country of origin. Setting up a successful micro-business, for example, can lead to a greater business diversification, sustainable growth and economic independence. However, most returnees opt for “quick fixes” – they purchase a taxi, livestock or open a grocery store as part of their reintegration package – largely because they are unaware of other options they could go for.
Solution? Providing returnees with tailor-made business trainings sessions, implemented through a network of local actors, can stimulate innovative thinking and diversify business ideas. To this end, ERRIN supports the Swedish Migration Agency (SMA) in the development of a project “Sustainable Reintegration in Afghanistan,” where local civil society organisations come together to create an “ecosystem” for reintegration.
A returnee at the heart of the activities, benefitting from an access to a wide range of local services, eg. assistance in micro-financing, administrative support, psycholological counselling, medical services, etc. A local dimension of the “ecosystem” can help boost ownership and acceptance of return.
At the same time, the key for sustainable reintegration is not only equipping the returnees with practical tools to start a new life in their country, but also tackling the issue of stigma they often face back home. To this end, the project is exploring the potential of increasing the acceptance for returns among families and local communities. By better understanding the social dynamics that prevent people from coming back to their country of origin, we also want to equip counsellors in Europe with relevant information that can potentially help them support prospective returnees.
The pilot project is developed as a 12-month action, starting in November 2019 – currently extended till June 2021 due to the COVID-19 developments – with the aim of benefiting 100 returnees from ERRIN Member States. The Afghanistan Center for Excellence and Lapis are the implementing partners.
Take a look at the project info sheet to learn more.