Number of migrants seeking help to return home rises by 60%

New figures show 91 people had been assisted to leave Ireland by the end of May

Reasons that migrants wanted to go home in recent months included 'medical concerns, family reasons and housing challenges'

The number of migrants, including asylum seekers, asking for help to go home has increased by 60 per cent since last year, new figures show.

Data from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Dublin, which assists migrants to return to their original countries, shows to the end of May it assisted 91 migrants (average of 18 per month) to leave Ireland. This compares with 140 (11 per month on average) for all of 2023.

Reasons that migrants wanted to go home in recent months included “medical concerns, family reasons and housing challenges” said an IOM spokeswoman. The IOM, a United Nations body, implements its Assisted Voluntary Returns and Reintegration Programme (AVRR) for migrants with the support of Government.

Among those seeking its help are “applicants of international protection or with expired visas (tourist, work). Beneficiaries may include irregular and regular migrants as well as migrants in vulnerable situations”, the spokeswoman said.


“We have noted an increase compared to previous years. In 12 months of 2023 we assisted 140 people. So far in 2024 we have assisted 91 migrants. International protection applicants are included in this number. In 2024, IOM supported migrants to return to 18 countries of origin, mainly Brazil, South Africa, Georgia and El Salvador.

“The breakdown ... is as follows: 37 per cent single men, 14 per cent single women, and 47 per cent individuals as part of family units,” she said.

The AVRR programme, funded by the Department of Justice, is voluntary and registered migrants can change their mind at any stage and withdraw their application.

The spokeswoman said: “The programme is to help migrants who want to return to their country of origin in a dignified and safe way. IOM understands the needs of migrants and endeavours to make all returnees feel safe and supported throughout the entire return journey.

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“Once a person registers in the programme, IOM conducts a vulnerability assessment as well as arranging the entire travel which includes the booking of tickets, organising travel documents and arranging transit and arrival support. During the entire process, IOM closely co-ordinates with its teams in transit countries to ensure the safe and dignified travel of returnees. If a returnee requires medical assistance, IOM supports with organising medical escorts.

“In countries of origin, services encompass assistance with immigration and customs upon arrival, post-arrival reception arrangements and onward travel to final destinations. Upon arrival in the country of origin, IOM provides reintegration support in the form of in-kind assistance, such as business set-ups, vocational training and formal education, ensuring sustainable livelihood of returnees.”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times