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Migrants: An Invisible Force in Central Asia

Almaty – One in four Central Asians are migrants, meaning ten million people are on the move, often irregularly, in search of work. High unemployment, growing populations and low wages propel people from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, who face exploitation, trafficking, and human rights abuses.

In order to raise awareness of migration in the region, and counter the xenophobia and intolerance that feed these abuses, IOM, the UN Migration Agency and partners have organized a photo exhibition in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan.

East, West, Home's Best

Sanobar and her husband Asanbai are two of the 500,000 Kyrgyz nationals who migrate every year. They went to the Russian Federaiton to earn money to send their children to school. It didn't go well, but now, three years later, they are home and happler.

East, West, Home's Best

Sanobar, 51, and her husband Asanbai, 52, have six children, and come from a remote village in the Aravan region in southern Kyrgyzstan. To provide a better future for their family, the couple, with their eldest daughter, decided to migrate to the Russian Federation, leaving the five youngest children with a relative to look after them until their return. You can read their full story here 

A football tournament to mark the occasion of the International Women Day and its slogan “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights” was held on March 3, 2020 in Osh, the main city in southern Kyrgyzstan. The event was cooranized by IOM and the NGO “Blagodat” in the framework of the USAID Dignity and Rights project. Sixty schoolgirls from six city schools took part in the tournament. The event provided aplatform for awareness raising on issues of gender equality, empowerment of women migrants, as well as opportunities for discussions on safe migration and the risks of trafficking.

Tamara Goes Home

Unable to find a job in Kyrgyzstan, Tamara moved to Russia, where a friend had promised her work.

She didn’t know that her “friend” was in cahoots with the owners of a factory. Upon arrival, they took Tamara’s documents and never paid her for her work. She was beaten whenever she tried to flee but eventually managed to escape.

Shortly after returning home, Tamara dialed 1899 on her phone - the Kyrgyz Government’s immigration hotline that USAID and IOM helped set up about ten years ago.

Our Daily Bread

Sirojiddin was unable to find work in his home town in Kyrygyzstan so he set out for Moscow, where he was tricked and became a victim of trafficking. He eventulally escaped back home where he's now the lcoal baker, providing work for his family and delicious naan bread for his community.

Bread of Life

“My boss would hit me, curse at me, and say that if I did not work for him he would call the police and have them lock me up for a crime I did not commit. I had no choice. I was stuck.”

Every year, anywhere between 600,000 to 800,000 Kyrgyzstanis leave the country to find work in Russia. This is a lot of people for a country of about 6 million. The money they send home accounts for about 35 percent of the country’s GDP, which is one of the highest rates in the world.