Supporting voluntarily returned migrants with reintegration in Armenia

Published: Apr 19, 2022 Reading time: 4 minutes
Supporting voluntarily returned migrants with reintegration in Armenia
© Photo: Tereza Hronova

Repatriation of migrants always results in the need to reintegrate into a society and adapt to changed living conditions. It means people seek new ways to stand firmly on their own feet and to thrive both socially and psychologically. In pursuit of reintegration in Armenia a number of Armenians who returned voluntarily from France and Germany (CAROB project) took the opportunity offered by L’Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII). OFII is a French administrative public body working within the framework of the “Support to the reintegration of voluntary returned migrants through employment, social and business support” project implemented by People in Need since 2016.

Up to today about 365 repatriates have been supported by OFII and CAROB in Yerevan and other regions of Armenia. OFII and CAROB offer different types of support: they have helped establish 86 new businesses, provided vocational training to 64 migrants, and 215 families received social and medical support.

With this in mind, our repatriates keenly stayed true to their business interests and desires and sought financial opportunities to start their business upon returning to Armenia.

After several years in Germany, Norayr, a beneficiary of the CAROB program—a cooperation between the OFII and the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)—came back to Armenia to resettle and reintegrate. Norayr founded his own interior decorations business where he makes decorations in wood, epoxy, and obsidian in Gyumri, Armenia.

Norayr is an archeologist by profession, and the author of numerous scientific articles, he has conducted several solo exhibitions of stone crafts and participated in an international exhibition by the time he had arrived in Germany.

However, none of this dampened his desire to return to his homeland, Armenia. As Norayr noted “I long that my only son will remain Armenian and speak his mother tongue. We returned, and I am very happy now. He likes Armenia a lot”.

Norayr’s choice to return led to business cooperation with some companies and the export of his products for sale. Now, he is satisfied with the results as due to the production of his works more people are employed, and they can take care of their families.

Tatevik and her husband, are OFII beneficiaries. They received support to establish a greengrocer’s shop which is providing them a livelihood and a small level of comfort.

In leaving Armenia they tried to pursue a better quality of life. However, after a year they decided to return and build their future in their homeland.

The support Tatevik and her husband received from OFII in the initial phase of their business was a great assistance. In addition, they could maximise the benefit from it because of their previous working experience at a greengrocer’s shop. Now, they want to expand their business by selling other products as well rather than selling just fruits and vegetables. “Our shop is close to the bus stop and people come to buy croissants and take-away coffee. We hope to expand our business”, says Tatevik.

Homesickness was the main reason for our OFII beneficiary Siranush to return to Armenia.

After seven months in France, Siranush could not adapt to the French environment and felt homesick. On her return, she aimed to open a hairdresser’s, however she re-evaluated her choices and decided instead to get an ELOS device. From that time on she learned how to operate it and started working. Currently, she provides better quality of work and is constantly gaining more customers. Siranush loves her job and is thankful to OFII for this kind of assistance. 

The heartbreaking story of our next CAROB program beneficiary differs from the others. Armine migrated to Germany with her husband Davit, in the hope of finding medical treatment for his incurable disease. However, it was hopeless. After nine months in Germany, they came back to Armenia and Davit died the day after their return. Armine was strong enough to initiate something new by herself. She wrote a business proposal for her “LuseTev” Handmade accessories shop and “DavtiTun” guesthouse (her husband’s detached house) and received support from OFII to turn her and Davit’s common goals into reality.

Armine, a painter by profession and a qualified tour guide, now has a shop in Sisian, Syunik region, where she sells handmade scarves, Armenian national dresses, toys and dolls, etc. mostly handmade by her. She also runs the guesthouse which was renovated and has become a tourist destination for those who visit Sisian.

OFII’s support was essential to realising the human potential of people who were keen to reintegrate in their homeland and succeed in their efforts. 

Autor: Elma Vardanyan, Communication Assistant