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“Returning is a big step”

Zwei Männer schauen sich eine Broschüre an, die auf einem Tisch liegt.

“Returning is a big step”

Redar, 34, is an advisor at the GMAC in Erbil. He talks here about how returnees can benefit from GMAC services.

What are the services that GMAC provides?

We’re a point of contact for people when they want to return to Iraq. Our aim is to assist them with their reintegration into society. We support them in finding a job. This involves us offering individual counselling, but we also run events such as job fairs. We also prepare them for interviews and arrange soft skills training courses. We can refer people to our partner organisations in more complex cases. The GMAC has offices in Erbil and Baghdad, but our partners have a national presence and even cover the entire region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

We also provide help with mental health aspects and offer psychosocial support. There’s still a lot of stigma attached to this issue. But if we notice during a consultation that someone needs mental health advice, then we can recommend places where they can receive help. Individuals make their own decision whether or not to accept this help.

Who can benefit from your programme’s services?

Our services are openly available to everyone aged between 18 and 60: returnees, the local population and internally displaced persons. We most frequently support returnees from Germany and other European Union countries within their first 5 years back in Iraq. We really recommend to everyone who returns voluntarily that they register for our programme. It offers so many advantages.

What does the process for reintegration into Iraq involve?

We collaborate with reintegration scouts in Germany. These scouts assist people who’d like to return to their home country from Germany. They put them in touch with us and we then offer an online consultation via Skype or WhatsApp. Once someone returns to Iraq, we have a conversation in person. We point out the best opportunities for him or her. These conversations are designed to encourage them to think about possible jobs.

We seek out suitable jobs for the returnee after the conversation. The important thing here is that we discuss and speak with these people – but we don’t make decisions on their behalf! Our main role is to support people. We inform returnees about potential jobs. We also help anyone who has a good business concept. We don’t provide direct financial support, but we do offer benefits in kind. There are for instance courses relating to starting a business, or we can provide suitable tools or work equipment.

How can anyone who is interested contact you?

We have a number of contact points, such as the reintegration scouts in Germany. But social media also play a major role. Our contact details are also available on the Startfinder website. We want everyone to know about the GMAC.

What role do your local partner organisations play?

The GMAC cooperates with 5 civil society organisations in Iraq: the European Technology and Training Centre (ETTC), Heartland Alliance (HAI), the Jiyan Foundation, the Zakho Small Village Project (ZSVP) and the Women Empowerment Organisation (WEO). Each of these organisations operates in a different location to avoid overlaps. They all provide a wide range of services that are complementary to ours.

Do you stay in touch with the returnees after their counselling?

Our normal communication process lasts for 1 year. We're in regular contact with the returnees during these 12 months. So yes, we stay in close touch with them. They can of course also contact us at any time.

Can you give us an example of a successful consultation process?

I remember one family who came back to Iraq from Europe. A couple with 4 sons and 2 daughters. They ran a business in Sulaimaniyya before emigrating to Europe. They sadly lost everything during their emigration. They had sold all they possessed and came to us with nothing. Our support enabled them to reopen their old shop. Their business has really grown in the meantime. We gave the father a jump start. And around 6 months later we assisted 2 of the sons with a business development package to help grow the business.

What advice would you give to people who are considering returning to Iraq?

Returning to your home country is a life-changing step. You have to be patient in this world. It doesn’t help complaining that you don’t have enough. Instead you have to work hard and learn new skills to be able to stand on your own two feet and build a new life.

As of: 03/2023

The language of this interview has been simplified. We want to be sure that it’s easy for everyone to understand. Our thanks go to Redar for agreeing to the use of this unfamiliar language style.

We really recommend to everyone who returns voluntarily that they register for our programme. It offers so many advantages.

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