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Volume 406: debated on Monday 9 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures and incentives will be in place to facilitate the return of Iraqi asylum seekers to Iraq. [117660]

We are working actively to ensure that Iraqis can be assisted to return voluntarily to their homeland as soon as practicable. Many Iraqis in the United Kingdom have skills, which will be of value to the reconstruction of Iraq. The Government are committed to helping clear the way for them to do so.We already have the Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP) in place. This programme is available to all nationalities and includes Iraqis. A number of Iraqis have already approached the International Organisation for Migration and they are making arrangements for their return over the next few weeks. VARRP facilitates assisted voluntary return as well as providing additional in kind reintegration assistance in the country of origin. The reintegration assistance is worth up to an approximate value of £500.We are consulting United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration, refugee sector non-governmental organisations and Iraqi communities in the United Kingdom on the type of additional programmes that will be appropriate to facilitate voluntary return to Iraq. No decisions regarding the exact nature of the return programme that might be offered has yet been made.