4. Workshop: Addiction as a challenge in the return process
The online workshop took place on the 3rd and 4th of November 2021. Offering assisted voluntary return and reintegration counselling to persons struggling with addiction such as alcohol addiction, drug addiction, medication addiction, etc. holds many challenges. Nevertheless, representatives of this vulnerable group want to return and ask for help. The workshop started with a short medical introduction to addiction and its effects on body and mind. Afterwards the participating counsellors were assigned to online working groups in which they discussed different scenarios of addicted clients who showed more or less willingness to discuss their addiction in the return counselling process and how they would work with the clients then. The findings from the working group were enhanced with the input by an addiction counsellor who spoke mainly about the counselling method "Motivational Interviewing” when counselling addicted clients throughout the lengthy decision-making process. Another round of discussions took place in the second working group focusing on when and how to end the counselling session when the client is too intoxicated. After addressing counselling topics of the pre-departure phase, IOM Germany held a presentation about the medical preparation for a fit-to-fly state of the returning migrant and the medical escorts who usually accompany addicts during the return flight. The return process, however, is not over after landing in the country of return. The partner organization to which the returnee is referred in many cases can inform about follow-up medical treatment and give psychosocial counseling. According to the experience of the reintegration partner Caritas Georgia, returning addicts usually do not manage to find a job or start their own business. It is rather a success, if the returnees manage to fight their addictions and reintegrate in their social networks. In a final working group session, the participants discussed the cultural influence on the willingness and openness to address addiction in the return counselling setting. The last input of the workshop focused on the nexus of (re)migration and addiction.
Field trip to Switzerland
The first field trip of the Transnational Exchange V could be successfully implemented despite of the ongoing pandemic. The field trip took place from the 20th to the 23rd of September 2021 with seven participants from the following countries: Austria, Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Respecting the necessary hygiene and safety measures seven organizations were able to host the visiting AVRR counsellors and to explain to them the Swiss asylum and return counselling system. The Swiss Red Cross Bern gave a short introduction to return counselling in detention centers. After learning more about the asylum procedure from the Bern Legal Counselling center for people in need the group met up with IOM. IOM International gave a short presentation about the new Policy on the Full Spectrum of Return, Readmission and Reintegration and the IOM BAZ counsellors talked about their AVRR counselling offer in the federal reception centers (BAZ). The program of the second day was also filled with several appointments. After a short exchange with Caritas Switzerland the group was invited to visit an employment program in the Swiss hill moor for potential returnees implemented by Caritas Switzerland and financed by the Office for Migration Schwyz. The program of the field trip also included a visit to a reception camp and a meeting with the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) which oversees and finances the AVRR counselling in Switzerland as well as the return and reintegration assistance.