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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.
Mother of five, Astra, 47, from Kyrgyzstan, was already struggling before the pandemic. She and her husband were unemployed, and sliding deeper and deeper into debt in order to keep their son in university. After some very hard times, her life has changed fo rthe better. Read her story here
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.
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
Pregnant, undocumented, jobless and abandoned on Moscow's mean streets. Read how it got better for Elvira*
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.
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.
“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.