For migrants living in Germany who are unable or unwilling to stay, voluntary return programmes represent a humane and safe way to return to their country of origin. Prior to and during the return process, the provision of information on return options and the individual reintegration programmes available is essential. Misinformation around the topic of voluntary return is prevalent across social media and in peer-to-peer communication among migrant communities. This leads to migrants basing their decisions on improper grounds. To close this information gap, directly reaching out to migrants is necessary.
IOM Germany’s outreach project provides up-to-date context and country-specific information to migrants tailored to the identified needs, avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach. By using a multilingual and sensitive approach to increase knowledge, raise awareness and prevent misunderstanding, the project aims to reduce information access barriers. Key objectives of the project include building the trust of migrants in IOM and the assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) process, notably by facilitating direct exchange with the communities, and destigmatizing return migration through fact-based information on support options and return procedures.
To this end, a variety of outreach methods are utilized – including social media outreach, search engine advertising, virtual and physical information sessions– so that migrants receive accurate and unbiased information on AVRR.
Social media are among the most popular channels of communication for migrants. They offer a space to maintain ties with family and friends, gather information on their status in Germany and provide insider, peer-to-peer knowledge. AVRR-related content is thus published on these channels to raise awareness about programmes and tackle misinformation. This is complemented by search engine campaigns, which are a vital way of reaching users who are actively searching for information on return migration.
Furthermore, events are organised to best inform migrants as well as key actors that regularly interact with them, including multipliers (diaspora organizations, embassies, migrant NGOs, etc.) and workers in the field of migration (return counsellors, voluntary workers, non-migrant NGOs, etc.). This direct contact allows IOM Germany to build and enhance trust on AVRR, which can be misunderstood or controversial.