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Published: 06/01/2009

Voluntary Returns to Iraq


In January 2005 The Home Office agreed that failed asylum seekers from Iraq would not be required to register with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) as a condition of receiving support under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 until an alternative route to Iraq had been established. This was due to safety concerns about the only route in operation along Highway 10 to Baghdad.

From 18 June, IOM has now been able to facilitate a return to Iraq by an alternative route by scheduled airline and, from 16 August, by charter flight, both to Arbil. IOM have opened a sub-contracted office in Arbil with staff from the local community. They are trained in IOM procedures and undertake “meet and greet” services. Assistance is available in Arbil to help with travel requirements to other parts of Iraq. Returnees currently receive reintegration grants and the normal range of reintegration activities has been set up.

How Does this affect section 4 applicants?

Due to the alternative route now being available, from 1 August new applications for section 4 support from Iraq have been expected to satisfy one of the other eligibility criteria to continue to receive section 4 support. The section 4 criteria are:

Unsafe route of return

Unfit to travel

Taking steps to leave the UK

Outstanding judicial review decision

Exceptional/compassionate circumstances

It is mainly expected that failed asylum seekers will demonstrate that they are now taking all reasonable steps to leave the United Kingdom or place themselves in a position in which they are able to do so. From 1 September, all existing claimants of such support will be expected to show that they are complying with specific steps to facilitate their departure from the UK in order to continue to be eligible to receive section 4 support. The Home Office will be writing to all failed asylum seekers in receipt of the support to advise them of this.

NASS letters

All replies will be logged and, if necessary, sent onto the section 4 support team in Croydon for evaluation and decision as to whether the support continues. Similarly, IOM will inform NASS if and when the claimant registers with them for voluntary return. If no response is received, NASS will discontinue the support. Cases will be kept under close review to ensure that support is only continued for those who comply with a voluntary return. There is a right to appeal to the Asylum Support Adjudicator.

The first letters will be sent out 1 September, the last by 1 December 2005. The Selection used is the date of the application for section 4 support, so those who have received this support the longest will be written to first.


1. No Date has been set for the first enforced return flight for Iraqi nationals who have been detained. 2. An Judicial review was made before Justice Collins on 26 August for requesting an interim stay on enforced return of Iraqi nationals. This has been stayed pending the outcome of the judicial review. 3. Mr Dindar Zebari (UNHCR representative in Kaz) maintains that Iraq is not ready for the repatriation of refugees; this is a human rights issue. He made the following comments on the UK's intentions to enforce removals to Iraq. “You should not start forced deportations to Iraq because Iraq cannot be considered as safe. There are still many insecure and dangerous regions, especially the recently liberated areas (Kirkuk) face a serious security problem.. Iraq is not ready for forced deportations, this would be a violation of human rights”.


External Article Link: www.migranthelpline.org.uk/migrant_helpline_news/migrant_helpline_news.cfm?id=261

Article Link: www.migranthelpline.org.uk/migrant_helpline_news/migrant_helpline_news.cfm?id=261

Please contact the author at mhl@migranthelpline.org for more information.


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