BRUSSELS—A record 3,755 asylum seekers opted to return home last year courtesy of a Belgian repatriation scheme.
Brazilians formed the largest group of repatriations. Some 714 Brazilians returned home last year. Most of them were men aged 20-35 who worked illegally in the constriction industry in Belgium.
The next biggest group was Slovakians (679), followed by Ukrainians (346) and Russians (210), newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported.
The repatriation scheme is dubbed Return of Asylum Seekers from Belgium (REAB) and is co-ordinated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
“We buy the flight tickets and give them a premium of EUR 250 for adults and EUR 125 for children,” IOM spokesman Pascal Reyntjens said.
“By arrival in their home country, the returnee signs a contract in which they promise not to come back to Belgium for the next five years.”
Rejected asylum seekers decided after an average of 29 months in Belgium to voluntarily return to their country of origin. Illegal immigrants opted for the repatriation scheme on average after 15 months.
“What motivates them to leave here is: no residence documents, no work, no money. What attracts them to their home country: a death, new political policy, end of a war or a reintegration project,” Bart Deceuninck of the Flemish Minorities Centre said.
“Therefore, we are working hard for reintegration projects which reduce opposition to repatriation.”