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IOM launches Return Counselling Toolkit

Third country nationals from Uzbekistan await onward transportation in a transit centre in Mlyny, Poland | © Alissa Everett 2022
Third country nationals from Uzbekistan await onward transportation in a transit centre in Mlyny, Poland | © Alissa Everett 2022

Today IOM launched the Return Counselling Toolkit developed under the project “Support to Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration from the Western Balkans through the provision of two key interventions: 1. The development of a return counselling toolkit and 2. Provision of AVRR from the WB”, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.  

The Return Counselling Toolkit builds upon IOM standards and the Organization’s longstanding experience in providing return and reintegration counselling to thousands of migrants every year, in a multiplicity of countries and operational contexts. The Toolkit is a piece in the progressive operationalization of the IOM Policy on the full spectrum of Return, Readmission and Reintegration (launched in April 2021), consolidating IOM’s vision and promoting a rights-based and migrant-centred approach to return counselling. It builds upon, complements and further consolidates the existing IOM institutional expertise on counselling, as outlined in key resources such as the IOM Reintegration Handbook as well as IOM Handbook on Protection and Assistance for Migrants Vulnerable to Violence, Exploitation and Abuse, and other key IOM publications.  


This Toolkit is an agile learning tool structured around five complementary and interconnected modules and accompanied by operational tools that walk the reader through the essential elements of what return counselling is and how it is to be delivered based on IOM’s approach and expertise: 

  • Module 1: Understanding Return provides an overview of what return is and its impact on the life of migrants at the individual, community, and structural levels.  

  • Module 2: Return Counselling Methodology explains the key counselling features, namely return counselling objectives, principles, and methodology.  

  • Module 3: Identifying and Addressing Migrants’ Protection Needs and Vulnerabilities in the Context of Return focuses on counsellors’ duty to identify and contribute to address migrants’ vulnerabilities in the context of return by adopting a rights-based and vulnerability-sensitive approach.   

  • Module 4: Delivering Return Counselling in Different Settings provides operational indications on how to adapt the return counselling methodology to different environments, including border and transit areas, immigration detention and emergency contexts.  

  • Module 5: Key Elements of an Accountable Counselling Programme highlights the importance of accountability and details some key aspects that should be at the foundation of return counselling programmes. 

An additional Module on Counselling Children and their Families has been developed in cooperation with UNICEF and Save the Children and it will be published in the coming weeks. This module is an integral component of the Return Counselling Toolkit, but can also be used as a standalone learning tool.  

An in-person training package to accompany the Toolkit is being developed and will be rolled-out in the coming months. 

For more information please contact, Giamaica Scoppa, Programme Assistant, at