UK: IOM Bribing Asylum Seekers to Return Home (vom 31.01.2006),
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[31. Jan 2006]

UK: IOM Bribing Asylum Seekers to Return Home

In a programme co-financed by the European Refugee Fund, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the Home Office (HO), has intensified its campaign to "urge" both successful and failed asylum seekers to return home, offering them money.

On 1 January, 2006, more than 50,000 asylum claimants and failed asylum seekers received a letter from the Home Office offering them £3,000, as a piece to leave the UK and return to their home countries. This "regeneration assistance" used to be £1000; now there is an additional £2000 for those who take up the offer between 1 January and 30 June, 2006.

In order to qualify for the enhanced return package, claimants have to leave the UK before 30 June 2006. The condition, apparently, is that they withdraw their asylum claims or, if they have appealed against refusal, withdraw the appeal.

The so-called Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP), operated by the IOM, started in 1999 to make deportation more efficient. The "voluntary return" of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants has since become an important part of deportation policies and the government's efforts to meet its quotas.

Officially, the IOM is an "independent, neutral, international organisation". How independent the organisation really is, however, becomes clear when one looks at whom it considers as "chain partners": the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, the border police and many foreign police bodies. Together, all these "chain partners" make sure that immigrants and refugees disappear from the UK: either in a "friendly" manner, through "voluntary return", or less friendly, through forced deportation. What's even more worrying is that the IOM has been quite successful in building up relationships and networks with refugee aid organisations and support groups, those which wouldn't normally work together with the Home Office or the police.

For more information about IOM see:
:: No Border's IOM Watch
:: Make Borders History's archive on IOM
:: Campagnes IOM

IOM contact details in London (for campaigns and actions):
21 Westminster Palace Gardens,
Artillery Row,
Tel: 020 7233 0001
Fax: 020 7233 3001
varrrp (at)

This article was published first @ ::, 28. Jan 2006