In 2012, Belgium’s federal government introduced the so-called ‘return trajectory’ (‘terugkeertraject’). Among other things, this means that asylum seekers must be given information about the possibilities of voluntary return, from the start of their stay in a reception center

Open return place

When an asylum seeker’s application for asylum has been definitively rejected, their reception trajectory ends and they are only entitled to what is known as an ‘open return place’. These are places in an open reception center run by Fedasil, the Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers. Immigration Office staff are present at this center and are responsible for helping failed asylum seekers return to their countries of origin.

In the period from mid-October (when the return trajectory was launched) to the end of 2012, approximately 300 residents were transferred from our reception centers to an open return place.

Empowering residents to decide their own future

Voluntary return is not a new concept at our reception centers. We foster discussion of the issue in various ways, always mindful of the appalling realities faced by some asylum seekers. In some cases, voluntary return can be a viable long-term solution offering meaningful prospects for the future.

By addressing the issue, we seek to offer people as much support as we can in making choices and so empower them to shape their own futures.

People who do opt for voluntary return to their country of origin can obtain one-to-one assistance with their reintegration. Together with reliable partners such as the International Organization for Migration and Caritas, we can develop and assist with a personalized pathway so that every return takes place in a safe and dignified way.

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