The sustainable return project - in which HealthNet TPO provided psychosocial support to returnees – has stopped in October 2011 due to slow results. In collaboration with Maatwerk bij Terugkeer, VluchtelingenWerk Nederland, UAF, Pharos and IntEnt the project was revised and relaunched in April 2012.
Returnees often face various problems upon return in their country of origin: stigmatisation, social exclusion and insufficient practical information. This project aims to resolve the impediments former asylum seekers and undocumented refugees are facing, during the return to their countries of origin, in order to enable a more favorable perspective and sustainable return.
In December 2009 HealthNet TPO became a member of the “Sustainable Return Foundation”. Within this foundation several organization were represented: IOM, COA, Nidos, Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland, Maatwerk bij Terugkeer, Pharos, SMS, HIT and HealthNet TPO. Early 2011 it became clear that the pilot programme executed by the foundation would not be continued after October 2011, due to slow results. These slow results were mainly related to the low number of returnees.
In December 2011 Maatwerk bij Terugkeer, VluchtelingenWerk Nederland, UAF, Pharos, IntEnt, Beyond Borders and HealthNet TPO submitted a new project proposal to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aiming to continue guidance and support in a slimmed way. The proposal is approved and activities have started again.
Results have shown that reintegration of returnees in their home countries largely depends on the attitude of the community to which they return. Stigma is one aspect that needs to be addressed by supporting both the returnees and the community (anti-stigma training for intermediaries). Furthermore, returnees are in need of more practical information as well as economic opportunities upon their return. HealthNet TPO provides (psychosocial and mental) support within the country of origin, cooperating with the other partners who provide support and guidance both in the Netherlands and the countries of origin.
Currently HealthNet TPO’s activities are aimed at people returning to Burundi and Sierra Leone. As almost all returnees experience significant stress during and after their return, HealthNet TPO also works on methodologies to support groups at a community level; aiming to prevent more severe psychiatric problems. HealthNet TPO is happy to be able to continue its support to returnees in order to help them work on a sustainable and humane existence in their country of origin.