The first project approved under the ERRIN facility, Reach Out looked at ways of improving outreach to irregular migrants in urban settings. The first phase of the project was officially concluded in April 2021.
Return counselling is more than just informing a migrant about the options for return. It is about engaging in dialogue with a migrant on return, supporting their decision-making and trying to solve any obstacles they face throughout this process. Information and counselling are key aspects of the return process. Migrants can only opt for return if they are aware that such option exists and if they know how to access it.
That is why a comprehensive outreach strategy informing irregular migrants about return options is a key part of an effective return policy. At the frontline, city authorities and municipalities are often better placed for reaching out to irregular migrants than national migration authorities.
Leveraging the existing resources and knowledge of EUROCITIES and OFII, with Fedasil (Belgian Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers) as lead partner, Reach Out brought together local authorities from different countries.
Launched on 1 March 2019, the project has been looking at ways of enhancing awareness on voluntary return to stranded and transit irregular migrants.
Fedasil and OFII jointly deployed a multinational outreach team who approaches undocumented migrants to raise their awareness about existing legal options, including the possibility of voluntary return. The team was operating in Brussels, Calais and Grande-Synthe (Dunkirk).
At the same time, a transnational community of practice, involving six European cities and numerous grassroots organisations, has worked to map existing practices on counselling and return at the local level, and develop a “blueprint” for a comprehensive outreach method targeting “unreachable” groups.
Take a look at the project info sheet to learn more and see the outcomes of the first phase of the project in the article linked below.