£6,000 to leave Britain

Extra support for those returning to Afghanistan and Iraq to help with the reconstruction of homes

16 November 2008. Under the ‘Return and Build’ programme, asylum seekers who voluntarily return to Afghanistan or Iraq between 1st September 2008 and 31st August 2009 will receive up to £2,000-worth on top of an existing £4,000 package. The initiative was launched in September with little publicity.

Afghans and Iraqis whose asylum claims have been rejected, and who have no right to remain in the UK, can each claim £6,000if they agree to leave.

“They will receive both individually tailored Reintegration Assistance – which can include a flight ticket, baggage allowance, relocation grant, small business set up, education, job placements, and vocational training – plus the new ‘Return and Rebuild’ support,” said Ana Fonseca, Acting Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration (IOM), UK.

IOM, the world’s leading international migration agency, is the co-ordinator of the new program which will be implemented through an extensive network of offices in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A Home Office spokesman said for the Telegraph that 600 foreigners are expected to take up the additional cash, which will cost £1,2 million a year.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, which campaigns against mass immigration, said: "No wonder the Government are trying to keep quiet about this increase in benefits. This policy is rapidly becoming both expensive and counter-productive.

"We are offering people from these countries a win-win situation. Either their story is believed and they get access to a welfare state for life, or they are disbelieved and they return much richer than most of their compatriots."

Last year, 4,155 failed asylum seekers and other irregular immigrants agreed to leave the UK under the Home Office’s range of "assisted return" schemes.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We consider it reasonable to expect those individuals who have been found by an independent judge and appeals process not to be in need of protection to return home.

"We will not apologise for trying to spare the British taxpayer the £11,000 cost of an enforced removal. If people refuse to return home we will seek to enforce their removal — last year we removed a person every eight minutes.

"People who don’t go home voluntarily are not eligible for any re-integration assistance."

IOM UK runs two voluntary return programmes: one is for anyone who has been in the asylum system at any stage – applying, appealing, refused – (VARRP); another for irregular migrants – who have overstayed their visas or have been smuggled or trafficked into the country (AVRIM).

Under both programmes IOM arranges flights and onward transportation to the home doorstep but under the scheme for asylum seekers IOM also delivers Reintegration Assistance in the country of return. Apart from a relocation grant given to each individual returnee at the airport of departure this assistance is not delivered in cash but in kind according to an ‘IRP’ (Individual Return Plan) tailored to meet the needs of each returnee.

Targeted payments can be made towards a range of things including: payment of fees for vocational training courses at colleges, for higher education, or for children’s schooling; a three month salary supplement for a job placement; short-term accommodation; an extra baggage allowance; or to help buy equipment and supplies to set up a small business.

The aim of this assistance is to contribute to a more ‘sustainable return.’

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