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The five countries of Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – are closely linked in terms of history and culture. Migration issues in these countries are therefore also linked and share strong commonalities. In an effort to address these issues, and to support economic and political co-operation among the five Central Asia states, IOM has recently adopted an area-based approach to the five countries of Central Asia with a co-ordination office in Astana, Kazakhstan.

To ensure coherence and long-term sustainable solutions, IOM has implemented a unified management approach to the Central Asian countries. This approach has allowed IOM to increase the capacities of individual missions in terms of fundraising, operability, accountability, transparency and professionalism. It also helps the Coordination Office to manage and oversee programmes, enabling IOM to increase its capacity in Central Asia while decreasing operational costs.

In Central Asia, IOM’s integrated approach has created a strong competitive advantage. This advantage arises from three factors. First, IOM’s unified management system increases its capacity in the region while decreasing operational costs, allowing efficient management and helping to ensure maximum impact. Second, IOM has a strong focus on teamwork. Not only do IOM missions within Central Asia work closely together on regional projects, but there is also close co-operation with IOM missions outside the immediate cluster area, especially with Russia. Finally, IOM’s long-standing presence in the region has allowed it to develop wide expertise. IOM has extensive knowledge about the programmatic, geo-political, cultural and socio-economic dynamics of Central Asia.

IOM’s regional programming promotes improved co-ordination and coherence on cross-border issues and leverages the competitive advantage of IOM’s field presence in all five Central Asian countries. In addition, IOM’s regional programming allows it to engage in close, co-ordinated co-operation with a variety of governments and civil society organizations. This co-ordination has led to a strong track record of delivering results.

A Message from the Chief of Mission

We live in an age of unprecedented human mobility. Migration is considered one of the defining global issues of the early twenty-first century, with more and more people on the move today than at any other point in history.

In Central Asia, which has been a crossroads of goods and people from the days of the Silk Road, hundreds of thousands of people move daily across the international borders in search of employment and opportunity. Millions of Central Asians work abroad and remit funds to their families. Over the last decade, migration became a major contributor to development throughout Central Asia, but also created many complex challenges for migrants, societies and governments alike, including but not limited to: increase in irregular migration, trafficking and smuggling of human beings; population displacements as the result of conflict, natural disasters, and economic crisis; security, law enforcement and public health issues; as well as difficulties of inter-state cooperation on migration issues. 

IOM has been present in Central Asia since 1992, providing sustainable and collaborative solutions for managing migration to all five region’s states through the network of IOM offices, IOM partner NGOs and through regional information sharing and training. 

IOM believes that migration is a potential catalyst for development and economic growth in Central Asia and can play a key role in helping countries realize their development goals. In order to harness the positive benefits of migration and reduce its negative impacts, IOM in Central Asia supports efforts of governments, societies and migrants to promote humane and orderly migration, facilitate integration and uphold human dignity and well-being of migrants, encourage social and economic development through migration, assist in meeting the growing operational challenges of migration management and advance the understanding of migration issues. 

The purpose of this Central Asia Operational Strategy is to outline IOM vision by identifying key challenges, main thematic areas and specific programmatic solutions that are tailored to specifically address the migration dynamics in Central Asia. This document has been developed through a joint effort of IOM offices in the region and taking into consideration individual migration challenges facing each of the IOM Member States in Central Asia. 

This Operational Strategy for Central Asia for the period of 2011-2015 is based on the IOM Strategy adopted by Member States in June 2007. IOM remains committed to working with Central Asian governments, civil societies, NGOs, donors and other relevant stakeholders to achieve the goal of Managing Migration for the Benefit of All.