Fourth area of intervention

Encouraging people to return voluntarily, with support from the Returning to New Opportunities programme

Returnees in Tunisia

Over the past few years, several hundred thousand people have come to Germany in a bid to escape violence, poverty and a bleak future in their home countries. Not all of them want, or will be able, to remain in Germany permanently. Many of them are already thinking about returning to their home country in the future. But often they do not know how and when a return will be possible or how they can get back on their feet after they return home.

The German government assists people in returning home voluntarily. Through its 'Returning to New Opportunities' programme, it is creating chances for a new start for people in selected countries. The returnee programme has been in development since March 2017 and already supports people who want to return to Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Tunisia, Morocco, Ghana and Senegal. Other target countries of the programme are Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt.

The BMZ is already financing many projects in partner countries that reach out to returnees, too. They include programmes that offer advice about starting a business or applying for a job, and vocational training and employment programmes. However, the existing programmes are not always sufficient to meet the demand for assistance and advice, or returnees do not know about them. That is why the BMZ is expanding existing development cooperation programmes in its partner countries and increasing its related counselling work in order to provide fresh chances for a new start both for returnees and for local people.

Counselling in Germany

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has a nationwide hotline in Germany (+49 911 943-0) for migrants who are looking for basic information about options for returning to their home country.

The hotline also provides information about returnee counselling centres in Germany that are close to their place of residence, where they can receive individual advice.

The BAMF has set up an online portal,, where people interested in returning home can look for counselling centres in Germany. The portal also provides information on returnee and reintegration programmes and possible sources of assistance.

There is a website with a contact database on returnee counselling centres, IntegPlan is a project to encourage people to return voluntarily. It provides integrated counselling for returnees, with counsellors in Germany and counsellors in countries of origin working together.

The website also provides information about voluntary return and reintegration options in migrants' home countries. It has been linked to the information provided online by the BAMF and by the country office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Germany. The website also provides a virtual migration advice centre for all countries in order to enable people to get directly in touch with counsellors in countries of origin.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) has provided "reintegration scouts" to support the returnee counselling centres. The reintegration scouts form a link between counselling for potential returnees in Germany and German development cooperation projects in migrants' countries of origin. Among other things, they provide information about job prospects in the countries concerned, put people in touch with the migration advice centres and other points of contact in their countries of origin, and explore funding options available for in-country projects that are operated by German organisations. The reintegration scouts can be contacted by e-mail at

Advice in countries of origin

Migration advice centres are being set up in specific partner countries of the BMZ, for example in the Western Balkans and in North Africa. They are the first point of contact for returnees and form a link between pre-departure counselling in Germany and reintegration programmes in the country of origin. However, they also offer advice to all local people who seek information on job opportunities in their country, and to people interested in migration via regular channels. Among other things, the centres help people find training opportunities, provide advice to people who want to start their own business, and assist people in finding a job.

GIZ – acting in cooperation with the International Placement Services of the Federal Employment Agency (ZAV/BA) and with national employment agencies – currently operates such centres on behalf of the BMZ in the Western Balkans, Tunisia, Morocco, Ghana and Senegal. Efforts are under way to prepare the establishment of such centres in further countries.

Contact data and more information about the migration advice centres can be found by choosing a country on the website.

Cooperation with civil society

In its efforts to support returnees, the BMZ also needs the assistance of civil society, clubs and associations, faith-based organisations and the private sector. In the area of psychosocial support, in particular, the Ministry is looking for projects that can complement official measures. If your organisation has been active in the area of displacement/migration/return/reintegration for at least three years and is interested in working with the Ministry, please contact for more information.

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Summary of the European Dialogue on Return and Reintegration of Migrants, organised by the BMZ and the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Berlin on 18 October 2018

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