The BMZ's programme "Returning to New Opportunities"

War, violence and persecution are forcing more and more people to leave their homes. There are now more than 82 million displaced people in the world. The majority of them are either internally displaced or have fled to a neighbouring country. Around 86 per cent of displaced people live in developing countries and emerging economies.

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Refugee camp in Nigeria

Apart from crises and conflicts, there are many other factors that make people leave their homes and homelands. These include hunger, poverty, the impacts of climate change, a lack of economic prospects or the search for better opportunities. Today, more than 281 million of the world’s people live in a country other than the country in which they were born.

Often migrants are willing to face great danger in the search for a better future for themselves and their families in a foreign country. Many of them place themselves at the mercy of criminal and ruthless human traffickers. Each year, hundreds die while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea or the deserts of Africa.

And not everyone who makes it to Germany is entitled to international refugee protection. Countless migrants are currently scheduled for deportation and will have to leave Germany.

Most people like living in their home countries and would like to stay there or return. However, for them to be able to do that, they must have decent living conditions, be able to feed themselves and their families, and see prospects for the future. If these basic requirements are not fulfilled, then people will contemplate leaving their homes and going elsewhere.

 Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration in Dakar, Senegal

 Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration in Dakar, Senegal

 Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration in Dakar, Senegal


Every year people who do not have the right to remain in Germany, or who do not want to remain, return to their countries of origin. In 2019, some 13,000 people received support from the public purse to assist their voluntary return home (according to figures released by the returnee programmes Reintegration and Emigration Programme for Asylum-Seekers in Germany (External link) (REAG) and Government Assisted Repatriation Programme (GARP), source: Federal Ministry of the Interior).

Many people awaiting repatriation to their countries of origin are unaware of what support programmes may be available back home to help them resettle and build a good future for themselves. Their decision to leave Germany may also be made more difficult by the knowledge that the communities to which they return will often have high expectations of them.

This is where the "Returning to New Opportunities" returnee programme can help.

What are the objectives of the programme?

1. Creating viable options for remaining and prospects for the future by fostering employment in our partner countries

What this means is that we want to:

  • show people that irregular migration is not the only option in their home country;
  • provide people with concrete job offers in our partner countries.

2. Transforming return into sustainable reintegration

We want to

  • provide all returnees from Germany with a job offer in their country of origin;
  • assist returnees before and during their return, and accompany their reintegration;
  • make sure returnees are better informed about the assistance available in their country of origin while they are still in Germany (voluntary return and sustainable reintegration as an alternative to deportation).

3. Reducing irregular migration – contributing towards safe, orderly and regulated migration

We want to

  • inform people about the dangers of irregular migration;
  • give people a realistic picture of the limited prospects for irregular migrants in Germany;
  • explain what conditions must be met in order for regular migration to be possible.

What are we doing in order to achieve these objectives?

The programme Returning to New Opportunities is able to build on the many measures, initiatives and structures already in place as part of German development cooperation. It focuses on partner countries from which particularly large numbers of migrants who are not entitled to stay in Germany originate. These countries currently include Afghanistan, Albania, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Iraq, Kosovo, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Serbia and Tunisia. The German government applies measures especially tailored to the situation in each country, since conditions can differ widely from one place to another.

Counselling interview at the Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration in Dakar, Senegal

Providing advice in our partner countries  Internal link

At the core of the programme Returning to New Opportunities are the advice centres for jobs, migration and reintegration. These advice centres are set up in the partner countries by GIZ in close collaboration with national employment agencies and other partners, and offer advice.

Apprentice in Tunis, Tunisia, taking part in a training programme for tradespeople run by GIZ

Improving the situation at country level Internal link

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is working to ensure that people continue to have prospects in their own countries, or to create such prospects. In 2019 alone, the BMZ made about 4.5 billion euros available for efforts to address the causes of displacement and to support refugees and migrants, and their hosting communities.

Brochures in a counselling centre

Counselling in Germany Internal link

The Returning to New Opportunities returnee programme is also aimed at migrants living in Germany who do not have the right to remain, or who do not want to remain, and have therefore decided to return to their native countries. In order to provide people still living in Germany but interested in returning home with information about the opportunities on offer in their countries of origin, the Returning to New Opportunities programme is networked with advice centres for migrants in Germany.

Logo of the website

Providing support digitally worldwide Internal link

As part of the programme Returning to New Opportunities, we also offer support on-line via our "Startfinder" website. People considering returning to their countries of origin as well as people living in our partner countries can consult the website to find information about what prospects they may have in their home countries and what advisory services and support are available for people returning home voluntarily.

What have we achieved so far?

The programme Returning to New Opportunities started in 2017. Since then, we have managed to achieve the following:

  • 17 advice centres in 12 partner countries.
  • We have begun, or intensified, talks on the subject of migration with 13 partner governments.
  • We have started providing support in selected partner countries to 13 national institutions, such as employment agencies, and have agreed long-term collaboration with them for the purpose of bringing about positive structural impacts.
  • We have established 56 new partnerships with civil society groups in the programme's partner countries.
  • There are around 20 reintegration scouts working with the returnee counselling centres in Germany. The scouts establish links with reintegration programmes in the returnees' countries of origin.
  • Across Germany, there are 17 education providers offering courses designed to prepare returnees for reintegration in their countries of origin.
  • In the partner countries taking part in the returnee programme, around 860,000 individual support measures (such as counselling sessions, training, job placement services and (psycho-)social support) have been carried out for the benefit of local people, internally displaced persons and returnees. Some 68,000 of these measures were specifically for returnees from Germany. In addition, more than 23,000 small and medium-sized businesses in our partner countries have received support to help them secure existing jobs or create new ones. The Returning to New Opportunities programme has already helped more than 250,000 people find jobs or start up their own businesses, more than 17,000 of whom were returnees from Germany.

In addition to having direct benefits, the Returning to New Opportunities programme also produces indirect benefits for a much wider circle of people.

  • For example, on average five family members benefit from each successful job placement.
  • And where people have received assistance from the Returning to New Opportunities programme to become self-employed or start a new business, there have been knock-on benefits for numerous other people as employees or suppliers.
  • The counselling services provided in our partner countries also help to reduce irregular migration, for many of the people who get advice at one of our advice centres there go on to decide against irregular migration. The reduction in irregular migration also reduces the amount of money flowing into the pockets of human traffickers.

The repatriation measures carried out by Germany's Federal Ministry of the Interior are closely aligned with the reintegration support measures sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Together, these measures can transform a return home into sustainable reintegration. Germany is leading the way internationally as regards support for migrants and refugees returning home.

Who has benefited from our support?

Still from the video: Personal story – Valbona from Kosovo

Video: Personal story – Valbona from Kosovo

Valbona went to Germany with her family to make a fresh start. The outcome was not as she had hoped, so about one year later, she returned to her home country. There, Valbona took part in vocational training courses which helped her get back into farming. Today, she is a successful dairy farmer and is able to offer her children a good life. Valbona received support from the BMZ's "Returning to New Opportunities" programme.

Still from the video: Personal story – Frank from Nigeria

Video: Personal story – Frank from Nigeria

Frank ended up spending a couple of years in Libya although his intended destination was actually Europe. When he finally managed to return to his home country, Nigeria, he took a course in fashion design. Today, he and his sister have their own fashion label together and he is happy to be back living in his home country. Frank received support from the BMZ's "Returning to New Opportunities" programme.

Video: Personal story – Nogaye from Senegal

Video: Personal story – Nogaye from Senegal

After completing a degree in microfinance, Nogaye wanted to advance her career and travelled to Germany on a visa. She stayed for three years, before deciding to return to Senegal.

With support from the BMZ programme “Returning to New Opportunities” she managed to set up her own sewing studio. She is happy to have lots of professional opportunities and to be back in Senegal again, close to her family.

Still from the personal story of  Simon and Munaya

Video: Personal story – Simon and Munaya from Ghana

Simon and Munaya went back to Ghana with their three children because they were not granted legal residence status in Germany. Now, they run their own food store and a cold storage unit. They are financially independent and are able to live with their children in their home country.

Simon and Munaya received support from the BMZ programme “Returning to New Opportunities” and took part in individually tailored support measures and in training courses that are on offer for local people and returnees.