On 24 and 25 November 2021, Switzerland, with Ethiopia as co-host, welcomed delegates from the Khartoum Process to Geneva for a Thematic Meeting on “Return, Reintegration, and Integration: Finding Durable Solutions”.

The objectives of the meeting were to facilitate the sharing of good practices and harness the strong cooperation built under the Khartoum Process, which benefit the region and the migrants concerned. The Thematic Meeting capitalised on the knowledge and inputs shared by a broad range of experts on the three thematic pillars (return, reintegration and integration) during a Virtual Roundtable held on 21 September 2021. The roundtable was organised as a means of setting the grounds for in-depth deliberations, establishing a conceptual framework of durable solutions in all three fields for the discussion and identifying priority areas for further exploration.

In addition to specific findings and good practice examples pertaining to each thematic pillar, several overarching considerations were highlighted throughout the two-day face-to-face meeting. The themes of return, reintegration, and integration are essential elements of a well-functioning migration system and have to be seen in context with all other elements that make up the migration process. If returns take place, they have to take place swiftly, in a decent and dignified manner, which always involves the three elements: the actual return, readmission and reintegration afterwards and the way to support that. These are also very sensitive issues. Leaving one’s home country is a difficult decision. To turn this decision around and go back is an even harder and more complex process. In this context, three aspects are important. First, migration is not a new phenomenon; people were always on the move. Second, migration can cause severe tensions within societies, between countries and even between continents. Third, and most importantly, there can only be one answer to the challenges of migration and that is international cooperation. In this regard, platforms such as the Khartoum Process provide a valuable space for fostering this kind of much needed cooperation.

Moving forward in addressing the three focus areas of return, reintegration, and integration, five key words can serve as guiding principles: credibility, dignity, protection, solidarity, and creativity. While bearing in mind the need to ensure a balance of interests between the countries, the states, the legal framework, and the interests of the individual, it is important to note that the need to maintain a credible migration or asylum policy is a prerequisite to ensuring the dignity of migrants and returnees. A well-designed and adequately enforced asylum framework also ensures that energy and resources can be directed towards policies for the protection of migrants. Considering the magnitude and complexity of the challenges at hand, it is essential to ensure sustainable integration and reintegration, for instance as a matter of providing support to countries with large caseloads. Emerging, innovative good practices illustrate the fifth key principle, which is creativity.

As a means of capturing and summarising the rich deliberations of the meeting, a video is being prepared and will be uploaded in the Media section of the Khartoum Process website.