Why is reintegration important? Perspectives from the Reintegrate Team

The Reintegrate project takes an original perspective on fundamental questions related to migration and reintegration in return countries worldwide. What differentiates this project from others is the unique combination of multidisciplinary and multinational perspectives and experiences of the research and advisory team members whose work together informs the decision-making process at every stage of conducting the project. In this post, Reintegrate team members share their thoughts on why reintegration is important and what interests them the most in the Reintegrate project.

Why is reintegration important?

“Reintegration is a process that is not commonly discussed in our everyday lives but is vitally important for millions of people. It is the process of returning to a country and weaving life together when there may be multiple challenges, such as family conflict, stigmatization from community members, and recovering from trauma experienced during migration, poverty, and unemployment. Returnees often do not know what to expect when they return and start the reintegration process, creating uncertainty as they prepare for their return.” – Katie Kuschminder

When people return to their home countries, they bring back skills, capital, experiences, and different perspectives, which have often been perceived to be important contributors to these countries ‘economic development’. However, this process, where returnees are expected to reintegrate within their societies, contributing their experiences from abroad, is not straightforward but comes with several challenges. These challenges can range from difficult social experiences, economic hardships, housing challenges, emotional and psychological issues potentially from previous traumatic migration experiences, and stigmatization from their wider community. This can be particularly intense for vulnerable migrants such as those who’ve been forcibly returned or deported or labor migrants from low and middle-income countries. Often, the returnees remigrate again, unable to cope with these reintegration challenges. Eventually, this transforms into a loop where migrants keep re-experiencing these barriers. So, it’s crucial that such reintegration challenges are identified and that reintegration policies address these issues to support returnees in their home countries.” – Rojika Maharjan

Reintegration is the process and the spatial meeting point where the sociocultural capital, decision-making process, needs, and aspirations of returnees meet the return country’s opportunity structures and societal landscape. Drawing on my previous research on return migration and reintegration in Central Asia, reintegration is a one-of-a-kind perspective for researchers and policy-makers to understand return migration and inform policies. Reintegration includes everyone related to returnees, from family members and communities to CSOs and the government. Reintegration is an intersectional process informed by the everyday realities of men and women of different age groups, citizenships, ethnic backgrounds, sexuality, and more. Inclusive and comprehensive knowledge production and policy-making need to incorporate a reintegration perspective.” – Nodira Kholmatove

Reintegration is important for returnees and all societies to protect vulnerable migrants and reduce inequalities as per SDG10. Policies and programs to support reintegration are highly important in this space and can effectively reduce returnees’ vulnerabilities post-return.
Katie Kuschminder

What interests you the most in the Reintegrate project?

For Rojika Maharjan, the Reintegrate project is exciting as it situates itself in the nexus between governance and migrants agency which is quite intriguing and significant at the same time. Moreover, she shares “bringing in perspectives from four different countries, cases of Nepal, Serbia, Philippines, and Nigeria, looking at how the top-to-bottom and bottom-to-up approaches work within reintegration governance will bring about a comprehensive conceptualization.” 

For Nodira Kholmatova Reintegrate is a multilevel and mixed-methods project studied by highly qualified and experienced researchers with an interactive and open-minded approach. Each research team member brings a unique perspective, and together each research case is comprehensively conducted. The richness and depth of the collected data allow us to further conceptualize and build theoretical models that push academic and policy-making discussions.”

Finally, Katie Kuschminder shares “My interest in the Reintegrate project is that we can start to capture what is happening and how, and most importantly, how these forms of reintegration governance impact returnees. Our work will create a new conceptual understanding of forms of reintegration governance through which we aim to contribute to academia, policy, and practice organizations.”

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