There is currently no specialised programme to assist survivors of trafficking who would like to return to their country of origin from the UK but need support to do so. IOM is advocating for this to change to ensure that there are appropriate risks assessment measures in place and access to reintegration assistance in the place of return.

Building on our historical UK work providing voluntary return and reintegration assistance to survivors of trafficking and our global expertise on this topic, we developed a chapter in the Human Trafficking Foundation’s Slavery and Trafficking Survivor Care Standards (2018) which sets out minimum requirements to ensure that:

  • the return is voluntary and respects the individual rights of each survivor;

  • the return can be facilitated as safely as possible in a way that ensures risks are properly identified, assessed and managed;

  • effective and appropriate reintegration assistance can be provided in the country of origin, according to individual needs

In 2018-19, IOM also collaborated with the Human Trafficking Foundation to conduct a small survey and workshop with organisations who provide assistance to survivors. The findings show that the overall picture for survivors returning from the UK is inconsistent and problematic, with participants expressing real concerns about safety and risk assessments, lack of information about and contacts with support providers in countries of origin and a lack of clarity and gaps in the current processes. Our short paper highlights the need for a review of current policy on voluntary return for survivors in the UK in order to meaningfully address the gaps and risks for survivors who would like to return home and ensure they are provided with comprehensive reintegration assistance to help them rebuild their lives at home. IOM and HTF are in dialogue with the Home Office about the findings of this paper. 

Between 2013 and 2015, IOM UK worked alongside our offices in Austria, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain on the EU-funded CARE project which led to the developments of detailed operating procedures to for the return and reintegration of survivors of trafficking, ensuring a continuum of care. The project’s lessons learned and recommendations are provided in the CARE Report.  

More recently, IOM has produced a Reintegration Handbook to provide practical guidance on the design, implementation and monitoring of reintegration assistance for migrants returning home. While the handbook is not focused on survivors of trafficking, it is a useful tool for actors involved in the provision of reintegration-related support to wider groups of migrants at different levels and at different stages: project developers, project managers and case managers but also policy makers and other reintegration practitioners.