A new project aiming to help those immigrants who decide to return voluntarily to their home country was launched by Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos on Wednesday.
The Centre of Information and Support for Voluntary Return is a joint, one-year project between the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Cyprus and the interior ministry which has a €509,354 budget.
The project intends to contribute to the management of migration in Cyprus, the application of a voluntary return process and promote sustainable socio-economic reintegration of the beneficiaries into their home countries. The centre will provide information on procedures, while at the same time help raise awareness of the migrants, support them and their families and provide legal assistance.
The Nicosia-based project is funded by the EU asylum fund for immigration and integration and the government under the supervision of the European funds unit of the ministry of interior.
“In light of recent events,” the minister stated, “with the increasing flow of immigrants and refugees in the EU, the terrorist attacks and the Arab Spring, the EU has significantly increased EU resources for projects relating to asylum, immigration and integration, but also of internal security and surveillance of the external borders of the member states.”
Cyprus’ allocation of funds has increased approximately 20 per cent for the new programming period, which lasts from 2014-2020.
The European fund for asylum, immigration and integration which funds this project has four main objectives, one of which is the management of illegal immigration, particularly by strengthening a common return policy.
“The management of voluntary return migration, although it constitutes a new policy field for Cyprus, has for some EU countries historically been a coherent piece of their immigration policy,” said Hasikos. “In many member states the political debate and policy for the voluntary return of migrants have long dominated the agenda.”
The main reason to encourage voluntary returns, as opposed to forced, is that they offer more humane conditions and return procedures for people in their countries, without the use of coercive means, the minister’s statement said.