The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday that in 2018 it assisted 63,316 migrants to return home through its Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programs, a 12-percent decrease from a year before, Trend reports citing Xinhua.
"As in the previous year, this trend continues to indicate a return to a normal situation after an exceptionally high number of beneficiaries were assisted from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland in 2016," said IOM spokesperson Joel Millman at a UN briefing here.
IOM said that its 2018 Return and Reintegration Key Highlights provides trends and figures on migrants assisted to return, voluntarily, to their countries of origin.
The highlights also provide details on IOM efforts to assist and reintegrate these returnees into their communities during the past year.
Last year assisted voluntary returns from regions outside the EEA and Switzerland increased, particularly in West and Central Africa and there was a rise in the caseload of migrants in vulnerable situations assisted worldwide, said Millman.
Now in its 41st year, IOM's AVRR program is part of the organization's core mission, and since 1979 it has provided support to over 1.7 million people.
In 2018, 65 IOM country offices in host or transit countries provided reintegration-related counseling services to 18,274 beneficiaries before their departure.
At the same time, IOM offices in 64 countries of origin provided reintegration-related counseling to 41,461 beneficiaries upon their return.
Anh Nguyen, head of IOM's Migrant Protection and Assistance Division, said the publication highlights trends and initiatives undertaken by IOM and its partners all over the world.
These ensure that "return takes place in a safe and dignified manner and that reintegration is sustainable", Nguyen was quoted as saying.
Of the 63,316 migrants assisted last year, 30,919 individuals, or 49 percent of all AVRR beneficiaries, were reached by IOM in two countries, Germany and Niger.
The other countries sending large numbers of AVRR beneficiaries home included Greece (4,968 migrants), Austria (3,469), Djibouti (3,392), Belgium (2,795), Netherlands (2,149), Morocco (1,508), Turkey (1,494) and Italy (958).
Among those opting to go home, Iraqi citizens comprised the largest contingent in 2018, with 5,661 returnees, followed by Guinea (5,088), Ethiopia (4,792), Mali (4,041), Georgia (2,681), Afghanistan (2,232), Albania (2,167), Russia (1,952), Ukraine (1,901) and Cote d'Ivoire (1,834).