Since 16 March, voluntary return journeys have been suspended for the most part as a result of national and international measures against the spread of the coronavirus.
Nevertheless, the teams of Fedasil, IOM and Caritas International continue to provide support to people who wish to return to their country of origin.
Migrants and social workers can call the free number 0800 32 745 for information, which is available every day from 9 am to 12.30 pm and from 1.30 pm to 4 pm. Fedasil return desks work only by appointment and in compliance with security measures against Covid-19. People can also turn to one of our many return partners, or to IOM and Caritas International.
Belgium organises returns on a voluntary basis for people living in our country without a permanent residence permit and who have decided to return to live in their home country. Fedasil is the government agency responsible for the voluntary return programme from Belgium. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is in charge of the practical organisation of the return journey. The journey is generally made by plane, but returns by bus are organised to some destinations, for instance the Balkan countries.
More information on: www.fedasil.be/en/voluntary-return
A large public
The voluntary return programme is aimed at all people who do not have a residence permit in Belgium, namely applicants for international protection in the middle of the procedure, applicants who have been turned down, and immigrants who have never applied for international protection. Often, it concerns migrants who have to, or who want to, leave Belgium, but do not have the financial or logistical resources required to do so.
A free decision
Returns are voluntary: it is the person who makes the decision to return. Furthermore, after applying, the person affected is always free to go back on his decision and decide not to leave. In this respect, voluntary returns are fundamentally different from forced returns, which are the responsibility of the Immigration Office (Office des étrangers).
An accessible programme
The programme is designed to be accessible: whatever the person’s situation, he is free to return at any moment and therefore his decision to return must be taken into account. To that end, Fedasil is assisted by a large network of organisations able to inform and prepare people for a voluntary return.
Support for reintegration
The voluntary return programme may also include a section on reintegration into the home country. Such support is a guarantee of a realistic return: everything is done to make things easier for the person returning and to support him throughout the first year of his return. For the implementation of reintegration projects, Fedasil works with two organisations which benefit from a network of partners in different regions of the world: Caritas and IOM.