Conditions for the return of displaced persons from the European Union
100 pages
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Conditions for the return of displaced persons from the European Union


Obtenez un accès à la bibliothèque pour le consulter en ligne
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100 pages


Final report
Social policy



Publié par
Nombre de lectures 8
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo


Final report
ι· nnpniiFnnnnp This report has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Commission. The opinions expressed
by the authors do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Commission.
A great deal of additional information on the European Union is available on the Internet.
It can be accessed through the Europa server (
Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication.
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1998
ISBN 92-828-3337-2
© European Communities, 1998
Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.
Printed in Belgium Conditions for the Return of Displaced Persons
from the European Union
Final Report
Richard Black, Khalid Koser, Martha Walsh
10 November 1997
Sussex Centre for Migration Research UNIVERSITY OF
Centre for the Comparative Study of
Culture, Development and the Environment (CDE) \&LW
University of Sussex
Arts C
Brighton BN1 9QN
tel: +44 1273 606755 (χ 3394) SUSSEX
fax:+44 1273 620622
e-mail: CONTENTS
Executive Summary 1
I. Introduction 6
Recent immigration to the European Union
The rise of 'temporary protection' 7
Repatriation 9
Structure of this report 11
II. Methods and sources2
Documentary research
Field visits to EU member states
Field visit to Bosnia3
Field visits to Eritrea and Sri Lanka4
Follow up field visits
III. Policy on return to Bosnia-Herzegovina 15
Typology of return programmes6
Criteria for inclusion in return schemes9
Current policy debates on return 20
IV. Assessing the success of assisted return: perspectives from Bosnia 2
Assistance to returne for re-integration4
Area reconstruction8
Problems encountered upon return 31
V. Assessing the success of assisted return:
perspectives from EU member states7
States' evaluations of assisted return:
Austria, Germany and the Netherlands
A framework for assessing assisted return:
the host country perspective 41
The costs of assisted return:
Austria, Germany and the Netherlands2
A framework for assessing the costs of assisted return 44
VI. Two comparative case studies: Eritrea and Sri Lanka7
Assisted return to Eritreadn to Sri Lanka 56
VII. Assessing the conditions for return: information and monitoring 63
Information for refugees 6n for host countries5
Misinformation and mistrust8
VIII. Conclusion 71
Debate on the numbers returning 7
Assessing different types of return3
Directions for policy
Appendix A: List of References9
Appendix B: Field Visit Schedules 80 x C: List of Respondents
1. Over half a million Bosnians have been displaced to countries of the European Union.
Most of them were initially granted 'temporary protection', although many now have, or
are likely to receive, permanent residence status. In 1997 to date, approximately 75,000
Bosnians have also been assisted to return to Bosnia from the EU under organized
schemes, and further returns are expected in 1998. This report provides an inventory
of, and then assesses existing policy on return from EU member states to Bosnia. It
evaluates the implementation of return from a variety of perspectives, and it draws
policy lessons for future return to Bosnia and other post-conflict countries. The report
also includes information gleaned from comparative case studies of assisted return
from the EU to Eritrea and Sri Lanka.
2. Numerous return programmes exist which are targeted at Bosnians currently living
within EU member states. This report provides a typology of these return programmes,
based on organisational responsibility (state, international organisation, non­
governmental organisation) and type of assistance prioritised (return, reintegration,
reconstruction and information provision).
3. The report finds that there is often a lack of co-ordination of assisted return schemes
both across EU member states, and in some cases within individual states. This is
reflected in different criteria for inclusion in schemes (some targeted at professionals,
others at unemployed, or the elderly, some specifically excluding the elderly or
vulnerable), as well as different 'philosophies' of return (at its most extreme, the balance
of 'voluntary' and 'involuntary' return, but encompassing a range of different incentives
offered to return).
4. Closer evaluation of specific assisted return schemes reveals divergent perspectives
between host governments, the government of the country of origin, international and
non-governmental organizations and returnees themselves on the overall 'success' of
these schemes. Key debates concern the role of both cash and legal 'incentives' to
return; the relative importance of shelter and/or employment in promoting successful
reintegration, and the extent to which area reconstruction schemes contribute to
successful return.
5. Our report finds no firm evidence that additional cash incentives increase propensity to
return, although these may be appreciated by returnees seeking to reconstruct their
livelihoods in Bosnia. Large cash payments to individuals also risk creating tensions
between returnees and those who remained through the war. 6. There is conflicting evidence on whether the threat of forced return (notably the
withdrawal or non-renewal of residence papers and notice to leave the country) has
been an incentive to 'voluntary' return. Evidence from German Länder shows no
correlation between return rates and policies to promote forced return. However,
interviews with returnees in Bosnia suggest the threat of forced return is a factor in
decision making, and even call into question whether much voluntary return in such
circumstances can genuinely be viewed as voluntary. Frequently, individuals and
families have chosen to leave quietly rather than suffer the indignity of being deported.
7. Both shelter and employment are clearly important issues for returnees to Bosnia,
reflecting the destruction of property during the war, and the collapse of then
economy. Although some important initiatives are taking place, in both cases, our
research suggests that it may be better to promote schemes which improve housing
and employment conditions in areas to which people may return - thus creating the
'conditions for return' - rather than targeting schemes on a fixed percentage of
returnees as beneficiaries.
8. In addition to housing and employment, other significant problems faced by returnees in
Bosnia include problems of reintegration in home communities (including social
problems not connected to ethnicity or religion); the presence of landmines, and the
imposition of 'war taxes' in certain areas.
9. In addressing priority issues for reconstruction, 'municipality twinning' programmes have
an important potential role to play, particularly if these are geared towards capacity
building of Bosnian local authorities, and utilize a 'participatory' approach. Nonetheless,
important political constraints remain to such schemes.
10. This report calls into question the notion that the total number of returnees (or the
number relative to start-of-year targets) should be the sole or main criterion for member
state governments in assessing the success of assisted return schemes. A number of
governments were found to apply other criteria, including the number of returnees
relative to the 'target' population (which is usually accepted to be much lower than the
total Bosnian population); the contribution of assisted return to an overall 'suite' of
durable solutions, and the 'moral' success which some states feel they have achieved
by avoiding forced return.
11. The financial costs of assisted return are also of importance to member state
governments. A framework for assessing these costs is developed, which highlights the
lower cost implications of mobilising an existing return infrastructure, compared to
developing designated programmes specifically for Bosnian return; but also a wide variation in costs associated with these latter programmes. Specifically, the relationship
between numbers of returnees and unit costs is unclear, with evidence showing that
larger schemes can be both cheaper or more expensive, depending on other
12. Schemes which simply fund the return journey itself are clearly cheaper than
reintegration schemes, whilst both are cheaper per returnee than area reconstruction
schemes. However, the first two types of scheme would appear to have a number of
potential 'hidden' costs, whereas the latter may have several important 'hidden' benefits.
Moreover, a cost per returnee calculation is clearly less appropriate for schemes not
directly aimed at promoting return.
13. Lessons from the comparative experience of skilled return to Eritrea suggest that return
programmes need to define target populations in order to ensure integrated return. The
majority of return to Eritrea to date has been of male individuals only, and while family
division is hindering their longer-term reintegration, the absence of skilled female
returnees is seen as detrimental to the economy. The study also highlights the
importance of evaluating a returnee's skills according to the demands of the local labour
market, rather than in the context of the host country. More generally the study
reinforces conclusions in the Bosnian return context that cash incentives alone do not
increase the propensity to return, and that local institutional capacities and other
'conditions for return' are generally of more importance in the decision whether to return
by potential returnees.
14. Lessons from the comparative experience of assisted return of failed asylum seekers to
Sri Lanka suggest that return programmes should realise the importance of local
economic and social networks for returnees, and thereby strive not to undermine them.
The presence or absence of a supportive social network is suggested to be of more
importance in the decision whether to return than the threat of forced return, and is
instrumental in the reintegration process for returnees. An over-reliance on such
networks, if it leads to a lack of monitoring of the experience of returnees, is at the
same time to be avoided, as at least some returnees are vulnerable and initially
15. The report concludes that collection and dissemination of information on the conditions
for return is critical for both policy makers and refugees themselves. However, despite
considerable attention from donors, existing provision of information on return
conditions in Bosnia is considered inadequate for a number of reasons: • for returnees and potential returnees, there is a gap between the need for
detailed and reliable information, and existing provision which is generally not
trusted as sufficiently detailed or reliable. As a result, returnees and potential
returnees were found to prioritise informal sources of information, such as friends
and relatives living in or travelling to Bosnia, rather than official sources.
• for host governments, there is no shortage of information, but there is some
overlap in collection and dissemination, and some question marks over its
analysis and the types of information prioritised. In particular, questions are
raised over the 'militarization' of information, and too broad a specification of the
'users' of information, leading to a reduction of the information's utility to any one
16. The recent establishment of 'Information Centres' at cantonal level within Bosnia is
however, seen as a positive development, of great potential benefit both to returnees
and to those who stayed in Bosnia. Such centres can act as a source of information on
how to tap into government and international assistance, and for legal and citizens'
17. Despite the expanding infrastructure for providing 'official' information about conditions
in Bosnia to host countries, there is still little attempt to monitor and learn from the
practical experiences of returnees. Promising exceptions are highlighted in the report,
including personal follow-up on returnees and post-return questionnaires administered
by some agencies.
18. Overall the report highlights a series of issues which it is argued should inform future
policy directions on return to Bosnia. These include:
• the desirability of wider consultation in the formulation of policy, in particular to
draw in the perspectives of returnees and potential returnees;
• the value of increased emphasis on 'area reconstruction' rather than return per
• the need to take specific measures to address the 'housing crisis' and
unemployment within Bosnia, rather than concentrating on encouraging return
which may, in the short term, worsen rather than improve the situation;
• the need to reassess the balance of incentives to encourage return from western
Europe on the one hand, and promotion of solutions for those 'locally displaced'
within Bosnia on the other;
• the value of policy co-ordination, particularly at a local level in areas of return.

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