Young Migrants Especially Vulnerable, IOM Tells Central Asian Governments

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Representatives from IOM, the UN Migration Agency drew attention to the vulnerabilities of young migrants in Central Asia at a roundtable in the Kazakhstani capital Astana this week. The event, jointly organized by IOM and UNICEF, focused on the challenges faced by youth at all stages of the migration process.

Vassiliy Yuzhanin, representing IOM’s Vienna Regional Office, stressed that youth have special vulnerabilities due to their lack of life experience. “It is much easier to trick a young person into an exploitative situation because they tend to be more trusting and ask less questions,” he said.

“We’ve also found that even where policies exist, they tend to be gender blind. This means that young women are doubly discriminated against, so they are a group of particular concern.”

IOM Coordinator for Central Asia, Dejan Keserovic said  '"We have carried out a number of studies across Central Asia and identified that approximately 10 million people are migrating into, within and out of the region. Hence, we need sound programmes to strengthen migration systems and to regulate migration processes. In the meantime, we need to build and maintain trust between migrants and their respective governments".

UNICEF representative in Kazakhstan Yuri Oksamitny noted ““Without necessary documents, not everyone can study in schools and receive medical services. And, the economic situation sometimes forces them to start working instead of studying. Moreover, the absence of documents makes them vulnerable to employers, and they can be stateless persons, victims of human trafficking, labour slavery and violence.”

The roundtable was a platform for governmental and non-governmental bodies, experts, international and donor organizations to share their opinions relating to the existing programmes, policies and research on youth and migration in the region and beyond. It brought together government representatives from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, USAID, EU Delegation, UN Women, UNFPA, NGOs, expert community and academia.

Attendees agreed that the IOM-led Almaty Process, established in 2013, could be a platform to develop further cooperation.