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Corruption and migrant returns

Managing risk in assisted return programmes

To incentivise the return of rejected asylum-seekers and irregular migrants, most European states support Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programmes. Corruption impacts these programmes’ performance. However, corruption control measures can lead to unintended outcomes. Certain efforts are likely to improve the quality and uptake of these return programmes. They include more realistic design of corruption prevention measures combined with stronger complaints mechanisms and monitoring processes.

1 January 2018
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Corruption and migrant returns

Main points

  • Anti-corruption controls can complicate service delivery and increase migrants’ perceptions of corruption within return and reintegration programmes. Donors should monitor not only whether implementing partners deliver the promised assistance but also how efficient and transparent the process is for returning migrants.
  • In-kind support, for example to start a business, typically involves multiple bids, contracts, licenses and other documents that returnees often struggle to produce. While these requirements may reduce opportunities for corruption and fraud, the resulting delays undermine programme credibility and uptake.
  • Corruption control measures should be sensitive to migrant vulnerabilities, particularly when it comes to documentation and travel demands.
  • An effective complaints mechanism for beneficiaries of return assistance is essential not only to curb corruption but also to establish trust in the programme and its implementers.

Cite this publication

Paasche, E.; (2018) Corruption and migrant returns. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Brief 2018:1)

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About the author

Erlend Paasche

Erlend Paasche works at the University of Oslo, and specialises in Migration Studies. He holds a doctorate in Sociology. His 2016 doctoral thesis– Return Migration and Corruption: Experiences of Iraqi Kurds – analyses the role of corruption for migrants’ return decision-making and the reintegration of return migrants. Next to this doctoral research, he has coauthored several governmentally commissioned evaluation studies of assisted return programmes, from Norway to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

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