The The Role of Mobility, Networks and Reintegration Assistance after Return. Insights from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia

Release date: 2023-03

This Working Paper investigates the (re-)integration trajectories of returnees to the two Western Balkan countries Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. By applying a multidimensional and processual understanding of (re-)integration, it scrutinises how returnees' positionality as well as local context conditions influence returnees' experiences and livelihood strategies upon return. The study covers returnees with diverse backgrounds, ranging from self-organised early post-war returns of refugees and IDPs, forced returnees, returning “guest workers”, more recent irregular and regular labour migrants, pendular migrants, students, (rejected) asylum seekers, and returnees with diverging socio-economic and educational levels, age and ethnic and religious identities, different durations of stay abroad and a wide array of destination countries. By doing so, it finds—despite significant differences in the return contexts and the socio-economic status of returnees—similar patterns among the very diverse group of returnees covered in both countries, namely the main role of (trans)local networks and mobility for the adjustment processes in the course of migration, displacement and return.By comparing trajectories of returnees who received different kinds of return and reintegration assistance with those who did not, the Paper also provides some insights into the opportunities and limits of reintegration assistance. The study's findings underline the relevance of individualised needs-based support measures in specific cases as well as approaches aiming to generally support inclusive societal structures. The study is based on qualitative data collected among returnees, experts and stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia between 2019 and 2022 in the framework of the research project “Trajectories of reintegration. The impacts of displacement, migration and return on social change”.