Return Watch: a critical look at “voluntary” return programs

Saturday, September 11th, 15.00-16.00, ASZ

Input – Medico International

The project Return Watch of medico international is online since Monday, August 23, 2021. Since deportations cannot be implemented in the politically desired numbers, the German government and the EU (and also Switzerland) increasingly rely on “voluntary” return programs. The research project takes a critical look at these programs and tells the stories of those who are worse off after their return. In this way, Return Watch documents the progressive use of development policy for migration defense and criticizes the pressure to leave, the lack of alternatives, and a policy of false hopes. At the same time, the website also bundles resistances against this policy. Because the desire and the right to a life in security and dignity cannot be driven away.

At the center of the website are the testimonies of returnees from Morocco, Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Iraq, Nigeria and Mali. They make it clear that the promotion of voluntary return and reintegration is often not used of one’s own free will, but rather out of necessity and lack of alternative. Many returnees end up in hopeless and even threatening situations in their country of origin. These interviews show that decisions to return with the help of official programs usually have little to do with voluntariness.

During the Action Days, Nina VIoletta Schwarz from Medico will present the project Return Watch, which brings together articles of journalistic background and political positions, short films and numerous stories and illustrated portraits of returnees. The aim of the project is to make visible the cynical logic of “voluntary return” and to put the topic on the agenda of the debate for the federal elections in September.

About Medico International

For over 50 years, medico international has been providing aid to people in need and working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and exclusion. In 1997, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, initiated by medico, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In solidarity with the excluded and marginalized in the global South, medico advocates for humane living conditions that provide the highest level of health and social justice. The goal is to not only alleviate poverty, hardship and violence, but to identify and overcome their causes. For the world is not suffering from too little help, but from conditions that make more and more help necessary. Crises and emergencies do not fall from the sky. Poverty and violence have their roots in global relations of exploitation and domination. Therefore, active and critical public relations work is a central task of medico international.