Migrants: An Invisible Force in Central Asia

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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.

The opening of “Migrants: An Invisible Force in Central Asia” took place on Tuesday, 5 September, in the Kasteyev Museum in Almaty, supported by the Library of the First President of Kazakhstan.

The exhibition showcases more than 40 photographs and texts, submitted by Central Asian artists, photographers and university students, as well as stories shared by two Central Asian writers, Dr. Nafisa Abdullaeva and Yermek Tursunov.

"Kazakhstan is the most economically developed country in the region and is a host country for citizens of some republics of the region; therefore, our task is to draw the attention of the society to the fact that migrants are not just a labour force. They are not some measurable economic unit but primarily are human beings that have rights and need be treated with dignity,” noted Timur Shaymergenov, Deputy Director, Library of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Head of the Nazarbayev Analytical Center, Astana.

The IOM exhibition is the outcome of an Open Call to Artists, Photographers and University Students from Central Asia earlier this year. A five-member jury convened decided on three winners from the Artists/Photographers’ category (Elyor Nematov, Didor Sadulloev, Diana Mindubayeva) and two winners from the University Students category (Almazbek Duyishebaev and Rakhat Sagynbek Kyzy).

One of the judges, Alimzhan Zhoroboev, remarked: "Sending your relative for labour migration is almost the same fear and anxiety as sending a child to war. You never know whether a person will return healthy, or whether they will return alive at all.”

Meanwhile, Gulmira Isabaeva, Director of the Kasteyev Museum, reflected: "The problems that the photographers show in their work are understandable and familiar to us. We selected the winners based on the depth of reflection on the problem, the aesthetic approach, and the professionalism."

The exhibition is at the Kasteyev Museum in Almaty, until 19 September. See brochure at http://www.iom.kz/en/new/284-photo-exb-eng

The Photo Story project is supported under IOM’s Central Asia regional migration project Addressing Migration Movements in Central Asia through Capacity Building, funded by the Government of the United States (PRM-PIM) and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

For further information please contact, IOM Almaty, Sub-Regional Coordination Office for Central Asia, Email  iomalmaty@iom.int or Tel: +7 727 258 22 40 /291 90 30.



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