This report provides insight into the lived reality of voluntary returnees with chronic medical conditions who returned to Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ghana, UNSC resolution 1244-administered Kosovo, Mongolia and Morocco. The report was developed in the framework of the IOM project Measures to Enhance the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) of Migrants with a Chronic Medical Condition Residing in the EU. The project was funded by the European Return Fund Community Actions 2011 and co-funded by the Government of the Netherlands.
Migrants with chronic medical conditions face many challenges upon and after their return to their countries of origin. This report presents the results of the research on the factors playing a role in the reintegration of this particular group of vulnerable migrants. Twenty-eight migrants who returned from various EU countries were interviewed about their reintegration experiences. Interviews with family members, health providers and reintegration organizations were also carried out.
The high cost of medication is one of the biggest stress factors for the returnees. Medication is not always available in free public health care, but only in private health care. Another factor causing stress among migrants is that generics may be available through free public care but are not trusted; thus, returnees have to buy brand medication from private pharmacies. As a result of the inability to provide for themselves and the stress caused by not being able to buy medication, most interviewed returnees feel they are a burden to their families and do not have a positive outlook on the future.
Challenges in the Reintegration of Return Migrants with Chronic Medical Conditions emphasizes the importance of the social network in the reintegration of returnees and in reducing the social stigma attached to certain medical conditions and return migration in general. Most interviewed returnees feel a strong sense of failure. The inability to share the reason for return with the social network is very stressful.
The report recommends the implementation of psychological support and counselling for returnees, starting in the host country. It also stresses the importance of taking the household as the basic unit of support and advises IOM to strengthen its local network in countries of origin.