More voluntary returns in 2015
The number of migrants who decided to return to their country of origin has increased since July 2015. A total of 4,053 voluntary returns were registered in 2015, compared with 3,587 in 2014. The end of 2015 was a record period, with 40% of the year's returns organised between October and December.One out of four voluntary returns organised in 2015 was to Iraq. Just over 1,000 Iraqis left voluntarily, most of them asylum seekers. Fedasil also noted an increase in returns to Ukraine (second most common destination in 2015) and to Kosovo, and a significant reduction in returns to Russia and Serbia.More asylum seekers Both asylum seekers and immigrants without a residence permit can request a voluntary return. Returns of immigrants without a residence permit remain high, and relatively stable, from year to year. In 2015, they represented 50% of returns (2,021 people). More asylum seekers, whether in the middle of the procedure or at the start of their application, chose to return to their country (2,032 people in 2015, compared with 1,506 in 2014). This trend can be explained in part by the increase in asylum applications in Belgium since May 2015.Return desks Fedasil has four return desks for providing more information to migrants about voluntary return policies and arranging interviews to answer their questions. These return desks are located in Brussels, Ghent and, since 2015, Liège and Antwerp. In 2015, 40% of the returns were organised by a Fedasil return desk (compared with 32% of returns in 2014). The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) usually handles the practical organisation of the journeys.