Evaluering av Flyktningehjelpens informasjonsprosjekt "Information and Counselling on Repatriation and Return" (INCOR)
The Norwegian Refugee Council’s INCOR (Information and Counselling on Return and Repatriation) project has been operative since 1995. This study follows the development of the programme aimed at asylumseekers and refugees, through the large scale influxes of Bosnian and Kosovar refugees in the 1990s to the recent focus on return.
INCOR is financed by the Norwegian Directorate of Migration (UDI) and this study points to the importance of this relationship when explaining the development of the project.
The study is based on interviews and written material. The research questions relate to the operations of INCOR, the outcome of that work, and the relations to it’s organisational environment. In addition to UDI, the position that the project has within the Refugee Council is scrutinized.
INCOR has played and important role as a partner for Norwegian authorities in their efforts to promote repatriation and return over the last thirteen years. Their independent position as an NGO provides them with a different voice and legitimacy than official channels of communicaton.
The information project is financed on a yearly basis. The analysis shows that this represented a challenge to the continuity of operations. It also shows that INCOR was insufficiently embedded in the Refugee Council structure. The organisation’s operations in Norway and in the area of return, did not appear to be whole hearted.
It is not easy to estimate the outcomes of information efforts, and particularly not in the field of repatriation and return. INCORæs efforts aimed at securing that refugees and asylumseekers were as well informed as possible when making the decision to stay or go back. Their interest was the quality of the decision and possible return. Despite this, an expectation that their work should in some way contribute to more people returning, was perceived by the staff of INCOR. As a consequence of this, the informants were all occupied with defining the difference between informing and motivating or promoting return.
This case study is a good example of the complexities of providing asylumseekers with information about repatriation and return. The report includes an application of classical communication theory onto the INCOR case. One of the results from this exercise is that the conditions for communication are at their best at the beginning of their waiting-period. But at this stage of the process, the asylumseekers do not see the information as relevant. When it becomes relevant, the doors to an open dialogue seem to be shut.
The external conditions are favorable to a continuation of the INCOR. A list is presented with elements that would better the project’s prospects of succeeding in the field of return-information. Among these are the need for a solid footing within the Refugee Council, an extended use of the Council’s officies in refugee-producing areas, and a stronger profile in the Norwegian public debate.
This evaluation recommends among other improvements, a transition to internet-based information, an continuation and differensiation of the guidance to reception centres employees and also points to the need for future solutions in the field of return and re-integration.