Return and reintegration processes: a focus on Nigeria


In the more recent political agenda, returning irregular migrants has been become quite prominent in the last years in Europe. For those migrants who do not need needing any international protection or any other legal right to remain at the country of destination, a range of options and assistance programmes are considered, including to help them voluntarily return back home and receive reintegration support. This research aims to focus on the migrant´s point of view to determine whether such return programmes can indeed function well as intended and if there is a sustainable and successful reintegration process in the country of origin. Various definitions are considered according to the International Organization for Migration (2011) on return migration, voluntary return either as a spontaneous return or a more administrative return. The “voluntariness” of returning within these programmes remains contested and several studies have shown that the strong divergence between forced and voluntary return based on the use of force, and the returnees’ experiences of their return. Thus, this research will look at the term “assisted voluntary return” as referred to in policies and programmes, but still considers the need to challenge the term within the context of the lived experiences of the returnees themselves. In general, data on forced return and on voluntary return are scattered across different data sources and are often incomplete or only partially publicly available. This research proposal will focus on destination country (Austria) and origin country (Nigeria) given that there is already some data and information available on both return migration through IOM AVR R programmes. In this light, the objective of this research project is to compare policies and disentangle national specificities and general processes between destination country and origin countries on return and reintegration. The main question is: Which factors influence the process of re-embeddedness of involuntary returning former refugees, rejected asylum seekers and irregular migrants and what is the role of assistance? Additional questions aimed at the “potential” returnees and returnees will also be asked, as well as questions on migration management. As a conceptual framework, the research will look at “embeddedness” as a multidimensional concept that refers to an individual finding his or her own position in society and feeling a sense of belonging to, and participating in, that society. The research methods will be twofold: in the first stage, data from different international organizations and secondary data from researches will be used to build the whole picture. A literature review will be guided through collecting and reviewing information in order to place voluntary and involuntary return within a wider context, and to identify key debates, issues and questions. In the second phase, the chosen method is to conduct a small N-survey to elicit in-depth opinions of participants from a wide rich description of subjective experiences of return migrants. A semi-structured in-depth interview model will be used to explore how migrants understand their world, i.e. what every day concepts and interpretation they use to make sense of it. The central aspect of “embeddedness” as mentioned earlier looks at the economic, social networks and psychosocial dimensions. Three specific factors will be considered: individual characteristics of the migrants (age, gender, education, religion etc.); position in the migration cycle (reason for leaving, type of assistance received if any, period stayed abroad and voluntary/forced return conditions; and finally, pre and post-return types of assistance received (be it from government, private or other). Analysis will be carried out per dimension, as all values together form a score between zero and one hundred, which indicates the level of embeddedness on a particular dimension.


Projektzeitraum 01.10.2019 - 30.09.2022
Fördergeber Bundesländer (inkl. deren Stiftungen und Einrichtungen)

Department für Migration und Globalisierung

Zentrum für Migration, Integration und Sicherheit

Projekt­verantwortung (Donau-Universität Krems) Univ.-Prof. Dr. Mathias Czaika


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