IOM, the UN Migration Agency, facilitated the return home of Tajik migrants who had been stranded at the Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan border.
A group of 600 Tajik migrants travelled home on a convoy of buses making the journey from the Zhibek Zholi border point in Kazakhstan, through Uzbekistan, and arrived safely in Tajikistan late on 19 June 2020. The movement was coordinated by the Government of Tajikistan with the cooperation of the Governments of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and was facilitated by the IOM missions in the three countries. IOM provided humanitarian assistance to the stranded migrants in the days prior to their departure and organized their transportation with financial support from the Governments of the United States of America and the Kingdom of Norway.
The group included migrant workers and students, as well as women and children. Over a quarter of the returning migrants are youth (15-24 years of age) including 100 Tajik students in Kazakh universities. Approximately 15 percent of the group are women and girls.
In the recent weeks, hundreds of Tajik migrants in Kazakhstan moved towards the border with Uzbekistan in the hope of continuing their journey home to Tajikistan. Some of them endured harsh conditions while waiting at the border for days or even weeks, without access to water, food and sanitary facilities, and without shelter, out in the open and fully exposed to the elements. IOM, in cooperation with its local civil society partner in Kazakhstan, Sana Sezim, provided subsistence assistance to the migrants as well as hygiene kits and personal protection items.
The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated governments to take containment measures designed to limit the spread of the virus. These extraordinary measures, including travel and mobility restrictions, are having an impact on all people, but some are exacerbating the precarious situations and vulnerabilities of migrant populations and leading to a large number of migrants being stranded. The UN Migration Agency recognizes and supports measures to contain the spreading of COVID-19 while emphasizing the right of migrants to return. IOM urges all stakeholders, in countries of destination, transit and origin, to explore ways to ensure that stranded migrants have the option to return safely to their countries of origin, all the while taking into full consideration public health measures.
To learn more about issues concerning stranded migrants and protecting and assisting migrants during Covid-19, please visit: https://www.iom.int/Issuebriefs