‘Best offer’: France to give €2,500 to migrants who return home voluntarily

FILE PHOTO © Philippe Wojazer
France is offering migrants €2,500 to voluntarily return home. The offer, which is only valid till December 31, is meant to “significantly increase the number of aided voluntary departures” following the demolition of the notorious ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais.

The government has temporarily decided to “raise to €2,500 the maximum amount of return aid” to foreigners (excepting those from the European Union or visa-exempt countries) who agree to voluntarily return to their home country, said Didier Leschi, the head of France’s immigration office, as cited by AFP. 

In addition to having their air fare paid for, migrants will also be eligible to receive “up to €10,000” in financial aid to help them get set up on arriving home.

“Depending on the country, it can help them start up a small business,” Leschi noted.

The basic €650 allowance has been significantly raised in recent months – after being increased by €350 in October, it got a lavish €1,850 boost in November.

This exceptional offer comes after the 'Jungle' camp, a makeshift shelter in Calais housing thousands of African and the Middle Eastern migrants, was demolished last month, forcing the evacuation of some 7,000 asylum seekers that then had to be accommodated at refugee centers throughout the country.

All in all, the immigration office aided some 3,051 returns this year, and “we are going to make it around 4,500 by the end of the year, that is to say almost as much as last year,” Leschi said, adding that Afghans migrants are “probably the most interested.” Since the beginning of the year, 400 have voluntarily returned home, as compared to 19 over the same period in 2015, he said.

Thousands of migrants looking to cross the English Channel to find asylum in the UK were holed up in the camp in the northern French port town of Calais for months. However, Britain only agreed to take in around 1,000 migrant children, and only those who already had relatives in the UK.

The number of homeless asylum-seekers in Paris has noticeably jumped since the Jungle camp was shut down. According to RT France, up to 3,000 migrants are currently seeking-shelter on the streets of the French capital, many of whom have recently arrived from the Calais.