Outgoing labour migration from Tajikistan has been occurring on a large scale for more than two decades, starting soon after the fall of the Soviet Union. An absolute majority of the Tajik labour migrants live and work in the Russian Federation. As a social phenomenon this migration has a profound impact not only on the lives of the individual migrants or the families who are being supported by a family member working abroad, but also on the Tajik society as a whole and the country’s economy.
With figures of labour migration peaking at roughly a tenth of Tajikistan’s population being employed abroad a few years ago, the latest development is a decrease in the amount of people leaving the country. The economic crisis in the Russian Federation, a currency depreciation and a tightening of the Russian migration law enforcement have made numbers drop from 800 000 people working abroad in 2013 to 520 000 people in 2016. At the same time there is an increase in the amount of Tajik labour migrants who have reentry bans to the Russian Federation, meaning they are administratively banned from entering the country, which can be due to various reasons, such as not registering properly. In the end of 2016 the figure amounted to nearly 260 000 people and the migrants are usually refused entry for three to five years.
According to its mandate and in line with the national priorities of Tajikistan and international commitments, IOM Tajikistan provides assistance to the Government of Tajikistan on regulation of labour migration issues, including policy making, capacity building activities, research and other activities aimed at maximising the benefits of migration.
During the past five years, IOM Tajikistan has also implemented a number of projects to address the challenges of irregular migration and assist migrant families, women and children to cope with some of the negative aspects of migration.
Migration and Tajik Diaspora
IOM supports the Government of Tajikistan’s efforts to engage the Tajik diaspora living in Russia in development processes in Tajikistan. The government were provided with technical assistance to develop a Concept and Action plan on Engaging Tajik Diaspora in the Development of Tajikistan for the years 2015-2020. This was done through sharing best practices from other regions, conducting trainings on practical engagement of diaspora in development processes, doing a mapping of the Tajik diaspora and other activities aimed at building a closer relationship between the government and the diaspora.
In order to raise the awareness of Tajik citizens regarding safe migration, IOM had held massive information campaigns on the topic. The information sessions and mobile consultations on different aspects of migration managed to cover more than 100 000 Tajik citizens, out of which 30% were females. Additionally, Radio and TV programs on the legal aspects of migration emitted and produced by IOM, targeted 2 million people in Tajikistan.
Migration and left-behind families
Women and children who have been left behind by migrant workers who decide to stay indefinitely in Russia and start a new life there often suffer from a higher vulnerability than other families. To improve their situation it is important to address the negative social aspects of labour migration by empowering women who are left behind and enhancing the protection services offered to them and their children. IOM has provided free legal and psychological assistance to these women from migrant families.
Lately IOM has been addressing the negative consequences of migration in relation to the school education of children from migrant families. An effort was made to raise the awareness of government, non-government partners as well as the public about the risk of dropping out of school children from migrant families face. This was done through trainings and round tables, radio and TV campaigns as well as handing out information materials.