Over a million people applied for asylum in Germany for the first time in 2015 and 2016. Many were fleeing from war or persecution. Others left their home country because they couldn’t see any economic prospects there. However, not everyone has the option of staying in Germany.
The German development agency GIZ is giving these people a better chance to make a new start in selected countries of origin, including the Western Balkans, the Maghreb and Western Africa. On behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is assisting them in returning home and reintegrating.
Working together for success: advisory services for returnees in Germany
The initiative focuses on individual advice, from preparing to leave Germany to making a new start in their country of origin. GIZ cooperates closely with cities and municipalities to provide relevant information to interested individuals while they are still in Germany. It supports existing advisory services offered for returnees by charities and social welfare agencies, as well as training and coaching.
In selected municipalities and at church and social agencies such as Caritas or the German Workers’ Welfare Association (AWO), reintegration scouts provide a link between returnee advice in Germany and existing services in the countries of origin. The scouts support the advice centres by establishing relevant contacts in each country. They also provide information on employment prospects and local services, such as guidance on starting up a business or vocational education and training.
Information is available online too: the website www.build-your-future.net provides an overview of options for migrants returning home voluntarily and making a new start in their country of origin. There is also a telephone hotline and website (www.returningfromgermany.de) operated by the German Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). Here, anyone interested in returning home can find out which advice centres they can contact.
In cooperation with eight private sector organisations, including the Chamber of Engineers in Stuttgart, the German Adult Education Association, the non-profit organisation Social Impact and the social start-up Kiron Open Higher Education, GIZ also offers returnees the opportunity to participate in courses to gain professional qualifications. These include courses for civil engineers and various skilled trades, business start-up training, foreign language and IT courses and online degree programmes.
A fresh start back home
Support is also available in people’s countries of origin. Specific training courses, job placement services and help with starting a business all improve their chances of making a fresh start. Services aren’t limited to returnees, but also extend to people living in the countries involved. GIZ has been working to create prospects for a secure and economically stable life for decades. Its contribution helped almost 900,000 people worldwide find work between 2010 and 2015 alone – and more than a million people have received vocational education and training.
This work is supported by migration advice centres – like the ones in Albania, Kosovo and Tunisia – operated by the federal enterprise in cooperation with local employment agencies. These centres offer individual advice to people looking for prospects in their own country. They also provide information on job and training opportunities in Germany. Since the first centre opened its doors in 2015, the number of centres in the Balkans, the Maghreb and Western Africa has gradually increased. Around 38,000 people have already taken advantage of the advisory services offered in these centres, and about 10,000 people have taken part in job application training courses.