- Publication date
- 31 August 2022
- Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs
This paper analyses the existing approaches towards returned women in the Western Balkans (WB), from a practitioner’s perspective, covering:
- approaches for reintegration and rehabilitation in working with women returnees from Syria and Iraq in the WB, with a focus on social and functional integration, trauma care, education and other relevant measures;
- roles and responsibilities in the engagement and coordination amongst state and non-state actors as part of rehabilitation and reintegration (R&R) approaches;
- identified challenges, capacity gaps and needs to address in order to strengthen future interventions.
The paper focuses on the four case studies of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of North Macedonia and Kosovo* due to their relevance in the region when it comes to working with a significant number of cases of returned women, availability of different types of programmes for returnees in general, and relevant lessons learned in the R&R of returned women.
The paper has three key objectives:
- to provide a systematic overview of existing R&R approaches towards returned women in the WB;
- to identify remaining gaps and needs;
- and thereby to identify opportunities for further improvement of existing approaches in working with returned women.
The paper builds on the analysis of different sources on the issue of returnees in the WB, including collected articles and existing national protocols/guidelines and frameworks with regard to rehabilitation programmes in the WB region. Furthermore, interviews with government officials as well as frontline practitioners at the central and local level were held to identify lessons learned and best practices.
The voluntary and government-led return to the WB of over 500 individuals who travelled to conflict zones brought numerous challenges that impacted on processes of R&R, particularly when working with returned women and children. Today, various practices are known through reports and case studies, identifying the need for a holistic approach that includes psychosocial, medical, legal, educational and mental health support. Although each case has similar elements in terms of expected psychological and emotional concerns, each one remains unique in terms of interventions.
The cases of returned women in Kosovo* on 20 April 2019, Bosnia and Herzegovina in December 2019, and recent repatriation cases of five women in Albania have shown that the process of rehabilitation, resocialisation and reintegration takes a lot of time and requires human resources and capacity as well as continuous and harmonised multi-agency support.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.