IOM Offers Safe and Dignified Return Assistance to Migrants Stranded in Belarus

After a failed attempt to cross the Belarus-Poland border and get to Germany, Khalid and his family decided to return home through the IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programme. Photo: Olga Borzenkova/IOM

Minsk, Belarus – Amid the tense migration situation in Belarus, where thousands of migrants are still stranded, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is scaling up its support to migrants who wish to voluntarily return to their countries of origin.  

During recent visits to the warehouse close to the Belarusian-Polish border, where still close to 1,000 migrants are accommodated, IOM has continued delivering essential humanitarian aid and relief items, as well as informing migrants about assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) options. Since 4 December, IOM has also been offering AVRR services at Minsk Airport. To date, 36 migrants have been supported by IOM to return to their country of origin on commercial flights. More return flights are scheduled in the coming days.  

“Many people have told us that they have nothing to return to, and therefore we are committed to supporting them in their journey," said Mohamed Refaat, IOM’s Senior Operations Coordinator on the Belarus/Poland border.  

"IOM’s AVRR programme is a dignified and safe option for those wishing to return to their countries of origin but who lack the means to do so without help, including reintegration support to re-establish their lives back home.”   

Hogr and his family have decided to return to the Iraqi city of Erbil with IOM’s support. They spent 55 days in Belarus, 22 sleeping in a forest: “I had little sleep for several days as I had to watch the fire during the nights to keep my family warm,” said Hogr, a former chef.   

Over recent months, IOM has received multiple assistance requests from stranded migrants and has recorded a significant increase in the AVRR requests – more than 60 per cent of the returns in 2021 happened between September and early December, with a significant number of Iraqi nationals opting to return home.  


For further information, please contact:  

In Minsk: Hanna Kalichava, Public Information Specialist at, tel: +375 29 568 44 94   

In Vienna: Joe Lowry, Spokesperson, Senior Regional Media and Communications Officer at, tel: +43660 3776404  

In Geneva: Safa Msehli, Spokesperson, Crisis Communications and Advocacy at, tel: + 4179 4035526 

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