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Immigration: Assisted Voluntary Return

Volume 703: debated on Monday 30 June 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their assessment of the elasticity of demand for assisted voluntary return packages offered to failed asylum seekers by the International Organisation for Migration, and whether they will consider increasing the benefits of these packages as a means of reducing the need for extra detention places. [HL4299]

The Government want failed asylum seekers who are in the UK illegally to leave voluntarily and, in co-operation with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), it operates the assisted voluntary return (AVR) schemes to help them to do so. This offers failed asylum seekers a means of return which is both dignified and sustainable.

To test elasticity of demand, over the past two years we have piloted different packages of reintegration assistance to promote AVR. We have listened and learnt from the experiences of applicants, the International Organisation for Migration, non-governmental organisations and refugee and community organisations on how reintegration assistance can be improved better to meet the needs of returnees. We keep our approach to AVR under review. In October 2007 we launched a flexible new approach to the provision of reintegration assistance to address needs on an individual basis rather than a “one size fits all” approach.

In order that all failed asylum seekers can benefit from this package, AVR is also made available to those in immigration detention which helps to manage pressures on detention space.