Mentoring Returnees: Study on Reintegration Outcomes Through a Comparative Lens --- by Samuel Hall

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Empirical research demonstrates that returning migrants go through processes of readjustment and reintegration that can be just as challenging, and sometimes even more so, than their initial migration and integration. Studies have explored the notions of successful and sustainable reintegration, but ‘success’ is frequently loosely defined or assumed to be implicitly understood. Until recently, sustainable reintegration was often assumed to mean a lack of re-migration. However, as IOM has stated in its definition, re-migration can be a valid outcome of successful reintegration. Another positive change over the last decade has been the increasing acknowledgement of the multi-dimensional nature of reintegration: whilst this is not a new idea, it is now more commonly highlighted in both academic and policy-orientated literature.

In 2017, IOM revisited its definition of sustainable reintegration presenting a more holistic one taking into account global migration trends, political developments in the areas of return and reintegration and increased awareness of the complexity of reintegration.

The new definition recognises the multi-dimensional nature of reintegration in the economic, social and psychosocial spheres and aims at reinforcing the links between reintegration and development, by encompassing interventions at the individual, community and structural levels. The same year, the MEASURE research project provided an evidence base to operationalise this definition of sustainable reintegration. The focus of this research was to operationalise a comprehensive approach to reintegration, based on the revised definition of sustainable reintegration, and to better fit with returnees’ lived experiences of migration, return and reintegration. The research team also developed core indicators and measuring tools, so that reintegration as a process could be monitored to enhance accountability and transparency, as well as returnee protection.

A key outcome of these two developments – the 2017 revised definition and the 2017 MEASURE standard-setting reintegration research project – is the IOM project to Operationalise an Integrated Approach to Reintegration in the Framework of Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (ORION), funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom government. Through ORION’s four components, including a mentoring approach piloted in Senegal, Guinea, and Morocco, the objective is to test and improve reintegration programming and its monitoring, using comparable data, standardized tools and reintegration scoring systems. This report provides a starting point to examine country level reintegration outcomes, through IOM’s existing datasets. Conclusions of this study are aimed at strengthening reintegration programming globally, including improved monitoring.

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