Raphaelswerk e.V. is a faith-based non-government organization founded in 1871 by the Catholic Bishops in Germany to assist emigrants before, during and after their departure. It has independent legal status since its foundation. Raphaels-Werk is an affiliate of the German Caritas Association.

Raphaelswerk maintains its central office in Hamburg. A network of 10 counseling teams throughout Germany assist migrants by providing reliable and up-to-date information on living and reception conditions in destination countries and individual help with paper work and support programs. With regard to refugee clients, the main areas of work are: voluntary return and third country resettlement counseling and assistance. In the last four decades Raphaelswerk has assisted tens of thousands of refugees from Poland, Afghanistan, Iran, Romania, Ethiopia, Chile, Bosnia and Herzegovina and many more countries in their individual resettlement or repatriation needs. Thousands of them have resettled in the United States, Canada or Australia. Others, after a sometimes lengthy stay in Germany, have chosen voluntary repatriation.

Raphaelswerk cooperates with civil society organizations, international agencies and with government authorities. It is linked to domestic, and to foreign relief agencies through the Caritas network and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC).

Raphaelswerk’s counseling services on site are operated by the local Caritas organizations which strengthens its role in a large national network of refugee and migrant services. Its staff have a long-standing experience in counseling individual returnees since some have specialized in this field.

At the political level its work is recognized by the German
Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, based on the Federal Law for the Protection of Emigrants (Gesetz zum Schutz der Auswanderer und Auswanderinnen). Raphaelswerk has been authorized to coordinate the activities of the emigration counseling network.

Raphaelswerk is funded by:

Raphaelswerk e.V. receives funds from the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Raphaelswerk counseling teams on site are funded by the Catholic dioceses and project grants.

Target group of the ERSO member (in the context of return and reintegration):

Any migrant, recognized refugee or failed asylum claimant who considers returning to his/her home country.

Does the ERSO member offer pre-departure counseling?

The focus of Raphaelswerk’s activities is on pre-departure counseling and assistance to individual clients, i.e. provision of up to date and reliable information (e.g. on housing, health care, education/schooling, employment, security issues, social services, etc.), relevant contacts in Germany and in the country of return as well as assistance with paper work, procedures, travel and reintegration preparations, etc..

What kind of reintegration assistance does the ERSO member offer to returnees?

Beside individual pre-departure counseling, Raphaelswerk offers assistance with travel and start-up assistance programs funded by the federal government, the German states and the European Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). On a case by case basis, additional in-cash or in-kind assistance may be available through local or regional authorities, churches, etc..

Partners in the context of voluntary return and reintegration:

National level: Raphaelswerk closely cooperates with other organizations and stakeholders in Germany working in this field: Caritas and other welfare organizations, lawyers, volunteers, faith-based groups, government authorities, and administrations. Cooperation with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) focuses on the government assisted voluntary return program which is operated by IOM.

EU level: Caritas organizations and further welfare agencies, and ERSO project members.

Countries of origin: Caritas organizations and Caritas project partners on site as well as partner organizations of ERSO members.