Helping migrants to return home

THE INTERNATIONAL Organisation for Migration (IOM) provides assistance for migrants living in Slovakia who wish to return to their home countries. Last year, 139 migrants received such assistance within IOM’s programme of assisted voluntary returns.

The IOM programme helps migrants get home. The IOM programme helps migrants get home. (Source: SITA)

THE INTERNATIONAL Organisation for Migration (IOM) provides assistance for migrants living in Slovakia who wish to return to their home countries. Last year, 139 migrants received such assistance within IOM’s programme of assisted voluntary returns.

The programme of assisted voluntary returns, established in 1998, is aimed at helping unsuccessful asylum seekers and migrants who are illegally living in Slovakia. IOM provides assistance to these migrants for the actual return home as well as some help for the migrants to integrate back into the society of their home countries after their return.

Migrants who return to their country of origin within the IOM programme are eligible for financial assistance to help them with reintegration in the form of reimbursement for services and goods up to €2,300. This assistance can be used, for instance, to increase the migrant’s chances to start a business or improve job qualifications as well as to access legal and social advisory services.

IOM provided this type of financial assistance to 12 migrants from Vietnam, Georgia, Paraguay, Moldova, Turkey and Laos between May 2009 and March 2010, amounting to €25,450.

Information about the voluntary return programme is available to interested migrants at the IOM offices in Bratislava and Košice as well as at informational meetings held with migrants and asylum-seekers at the Border and Foreigners' Police offices and the Migration Office of Slovakia’s Interior Ministry.

Apart from these sources of information, a country-wide informational campaign was launched in 2009. The first part of the campaign ran from August until November 2009, mainly in Bratislava, Trnava, Nitra, Trenčín, Topoľčany, Žilina, Zvolen, Košice and Prešov with billboards and posters in streets and at the railway stations of these cities and towns. Information on the programme was prepared in six languages – Slovak, English, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Arabic – and is now being communicated within the second part of the campaign in the spring of 2010.

“The campaign was successful last year,” said Zuzana Vatráľová, the head of the IOM office in Bratislava. “The public has noticed it, which showed in the increased number of phone calls to our toll-free phone line, one of the ways through which we communicate the campaign.”

Those seeking information on assisted return to their country of origin can call the IOM hotline at 0850 211 262. Thanks to the campaign, the number of phone calls on the line tripled. During all of 2009, calls were made by 214 people for consultations and advisory services, but 152 of them were in the 4-month period from August to November 2009 during the campaign, according to information IOM provided to The Slovak Spectator.

According to IOM, the number of migrants without a Slovak residence permit (and not being housed in a facility of the Interior Ministry) who took advantage of the voluntary return programme rose from zero in 2008 to 47 in 2009.

Thanks to this public awareness outreach, 139 migrants (including those with legal residence) were assisted in returning to their home countries in 2009 and another 33 migrants received help in the first three months of 2010, according to IOM statistics as of March 31, 2010.

The total number of persons who have been assisted in returning home between 2004 and 2010 was 816, with migrants returning mostly to Moldova (nearly 25 percent of the total), China (19 percent), and Vietnam (10 percent), followed by Turkey, Russia, Iraq, Kosovo and others.

The IOM programme of assisted voluntary returns is operated by IOM on the basis of an agreement with Slovakia’s Interior Ministry. IOM also cooperates with the embassies of the countries of origin of significant number of migrants to Slovakia, as well as with other NGOs that assist migrants.

Further information on the programme can be obtained in person from the IOM offices at Grösslingova 4 in Bratislava and at Hlavná 68 in Košice, via the phone line 0850 211 262, by e-mail at or at

Informational bulletins are also available at the offices of the Border and Foreigners' Police, in asylum facilities of the Migration Office and at labour offices in all regions of Slovakia.

By Michaela Stanková

with press reports

Top stories

The Slovak Shamrocks

Every Irish village has a Gaelic football team. So does Bratislava

Many people have never heard of the sport, but three months later, they’re playing in the European Gaelic Football championships.

12. jún
Illustrative stock photo

Pandemic has cut both job and salary offers. Labour market adapts to new trends

These were the trends of the Slovak labour market in the past year.

12. jún
An interactive statue by the Love Bank museum in Banská Štiavnica.

Instead of love, "garden gnomes" cause uproar in a Slovak UNESCO town

Your weekly dose of easy reads about Slovakia.

11. jún