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‘Voluntary returns’ for rejected asylum seekers, foreign national prisoners, illegal entrants and overstayers are increasingly being promoted by European governments without due regard for the safety and preparedness of the returnee. In addition, the voluntariness of such returns has to be questioned. Among the UK schemes examined here are the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP), Assisted Voluntary Return of Irregular Migrants (AVRIM), Assisted Voluntary Return for Families and Children (AVRFC), the Facilitated Returns Scheme (FRS) and the now discontinued ‘Explore and Prepare’ schemes.
This article, part of a major research project dealing with return migrants, delves into the feeling of loss experienced by female return migrants who migrated in their youth and returned home as older women. Analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data confirms that most of the respondents regretted their decision to migrate mostly because they thought it had harmed their marriage prospects. Many of them also felt that their long absence from home had weakened their roots in the family and community. A substantial number of respondents rued that the professional skills they possessed before migration had become redundant in the country of their origin as they were not able to use these while they were away.
 
 
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