Annex 10: Key terms in the Handbook

Assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programmes

Administrative, logistical and financial support, including reintegration assistance, to migrants unable or unwilling to remain in the host or transit country and who decide to return to their country of origin.103

Case management

Case management is a standard social work practice used to help beneficiaries meet their needs when they are receiving services from a variety of different providers. In the context of return and reintegration, case management can be helpful for assisting returnees and their families navigate what are often fragmented support services.


A number of persons who regularly interact with one another, within a specific geographical territory, and who tend to share common values, beliefs and attitudes.

Community mobilization

Community mobilization aims to develop inclusiveness and a positive attitude towards reintegration of returnees, counteracting potential stigma. It is a sensitization activity through which community members, groups or organizations plan and carry out activities on a participatory basis to improve specific conditions, either on their own initiative or stimulated by others. It involves important processes like raising awareness and building commitment, giving community members the opportunity to explore their current beliefs, attitudes and practices, setting priorities, planning how best to meet their challenges, implement their plans and monitor their progress and evaluating results.

Community profile

Community profiles help the reintegration organization understand how reintegration activities can support both returnees and receiving communities, and how the reintegration process affects the community.


Counselling is a helping interaction and relationship, based on communication, aimed at supporting and enabling a person to explore a problem. It raises the individual's awareness of the issues at stake, as well as their capacity to evaluate choices and take informed decisions. It is therefore not simply “talking” with people in need, as often happens between relatives and friends discussing a problem. See more on counselling in section 2.1.

Economic dimension of reintegration

Covers aspects of reintegration which contribute to re-entering the economic life and sustained livelihoods.

Gender-based violence (GBV)

GBV is an umbrella term for any harmful act perpetrated against a person, based on socially determined gender differences, that inflicts physical or mental harm or suffering, threats, coercion and other deprivations of liberty.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”; it includes “the enjoyment of the highest rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”104

Integrated approach to reintegration

Its premise is that the complex, multidimensional process of reintegration requires a holistic and needs-based approach, one that takes into consideration the various factors that can affect reintegration, including economic, social and psychosocial dimensions, to respond to the needs of the individual returnees and the communities to which they return in a mutually beneficial way, as well as addressing the structural factors at play.

Mental health

“A state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”105

Mental health is not only the absence of mental disorders but an overall state of well-being. For returning migrants, however, this state is more difficult to achieve. Unpacking the definition and adapting it to the case of returning migrants, it can be assumed that they could not realize their potential in their country of origin, which could have been one of the reasons for their migration. Not all returns are due to the failure of the migration project: migrants may go back to their country of origin for numerous reasons or simply because they consider their migration experience concluded. However, those who return due to the failure of their migration plan and were not able to accomplish their potential in the host country either, do so for different reasons. For all returning migrants, whatever the reason for returning, their sense of belonging to communities and cultures multiply and coexist, as these include the community of origin, the migrants’ community and the host community in the country of migration, all with their different expectations and forces of inclusion and exclusion. Moreover, the migration cycle may have been accompanied by abnormal stressors: perilous journeys, traumatic experiences, exploitation and rejection. These and other factors explain why return migration can impact the mental health of migrants, according to the WHO definition.

Migrants in vulnerable situations

Migrants who are unable to effectively enjoy their human rights, are at increased risk of violations and abuse, and who, accordingly, are entitled to call on a duty bearer’s heightened duty of care. Vulnerable situations that migrants face can arise from a range of factors that may intersect or coexist simultaneously, influencing and exacerbating each other and also evolving or changing over time as circumstances change.106

Migrants vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse

A migrant or group of migrants with limited capability to avoid, resist, cope or recover from violence, exploitation or abuse within a migration context, as a result of the unique interaction of individual, household and family, community and structural characteristics and conditions.

Psychosocial dimension of reintegration

Encompasses the reinsertion of returning migrants into personal support networks (friends, relatives, neighbours) and civil society structures (associations, self-help groups and other organizations). This also includes the re-engagement with the values, way of living, language, moral principles and traditions of the country of origin’s society.

Referral system

A referral system or mechanism is a process of cooperation between multiple stakeholders to provide reintegration assistance to returnees. An effective mechanism is required to coordinate the activities of pertinent government agencies and service providers (Public and Private Employment Services, Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutes, Business Development Support centres, education institutions, health-care providers, CSOs, and so on) and ensures the seamless operation of the reintegration programme between national and local level stakeholders.

Reintegration plan

A reintegration plan is a tool for a returnee to identify their objectives for their reintegration process and to plan, with the support of the case manager, what support is needed and how it will be provided. It is developed by bringing together an understanding of the returnee’s skills, needs and motivations and the context to which the returnee is returning, including challenges, opportunities and available services.


The process which enables individuals to re-establish the economic, social and psychosocial relationships needed to maintain life, livelihood and dignity and inclusion in civic life.


In a general sense, return refers to the act or process of going back or being taken back to the point of departure. It is also often associated with the process of going back to one’s own culture, family and home.


Generally understood as a person who returns to their place of origin, irrespective of the length of the absence or the modality of return. For the purpose of this Handbook, a returnee is a migrant unable or unwilling to remain in a host or transit country who returns to their country of origin.

Service mapping

Service mapping is identifying and recording all providers and services within a given geographical region in a systematic way. It details what local services are available to local populations and returnees, what the criteria are for accessing those services, who offers those services, any risks associated with accessing services, and the quality of the services available.

Social dimension of reintegration

Reflects the access by returning migrants to public services and infrastructure in their countries of origin, including access to health, education, housing, justice and social protection schemes.

Situation analysis

A situation analysis in the country of origin details the return and reintegration context and trends as well as the wider policy framework.

Stakeholder mapping

Stakeholder mapping provides a comprehensive assessment of the capacity, needs, willingness and potential for partnerships of different stakeholders at the national and local level.

Sustainable reintegration

Reintegration can be considered sustainable when returnees have reached levels of economic self-sufficiency, social stability within their communities and psychosocial well-being that allow them to cope with remigration drivers. Having achieved sustainable reintegration, returnees are able to make further migration decisions a matter of choice, rather than necessity.107

103 In the migration context, the term “country of origin” is understood as “a country of nationality or of former habitual residence of a person or group of persons who have migrated abroad, irrespective of whether they migrate regularly or irregularly” (IOM Glossary on Migration, Geneva, 2019).

104 WHO, Twelfth General Programme of Work (Geneva, 2014)

105 WHO, Promoting Mental Health. Concepts, Emerging Evidence, Practice (Geneva, 2004).

106 IOM Glossary on Migration, 2019.

107 This definition implies the absence of a direct correlation between successful reintegration and further migration after return. The latter can take place and can still be a choice regardless of whether reintegration is successful, partially successful or unsuccessful. However, returnees are unlikely to reintegrate if they find themselves in situations whereby moving again or relying on a family member abroad is considered necessary for their physical or socioeconomic survival.