Tajik authorities advised to support labor migrants and not to be indifferent to their fate

6 months ago Web Desk 0

Migration for work is an important livelihood option for many households in Tajikistan due to limited job opportunities.  Labor migrants are a critical component in the economy of Tajikistan and remittances from migrant workers keep many struggling families at home above the poverty line and significantly supplement the country’s foreign currency reserves.


A report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on December 9 notes that the economic crisis and worldwide shutdown induced by COVID-19 have caused international migration flows to fall and remittances are projected to decline significantly.


Strengthening Support for Labor Migration in Tajikistan: Assessment and Recommendations also reviews international best practices and discusses ways to address migrant workers’ issues related to the pandemic.  It reviews the state of international migration out of Tajikistan and proposes programs and services to further strengthen support for migrant workers, including those affected by the impact of COVID-19.


The report presents an analysis of the major socioeconomic impacts of labor migration in Tajikistan, along with recommendations for policy planners and administrators.


The analysis covers recent trends of migration and needed support, as well as policy options for future predeparture and post-return services.


The report says that over the last decade, Tajikistan has steadily reduced poverty. International migration, an alternative livelihood option, has been a major driver of this economic advancement.  Migration eases the pressure of unemployment and contributes to the foreign currency reserve. In 2019, Tajikistan received $2.7 billion as remittance, equivalent to 33.4% of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the report.


The report notes that the government must manage the outflow of migrant workers while ensuring their safety, rights, and welfare.


According to the report, every year about half a million Tajiks leave the country for overseas employment, the majority of them male (85.5% in 2019) and short-term seasonal migrants (75%).  Migrants are primarily from rural areas (85%) and young (85% between 15 and 44).  The Russian Federation is the major destination country for Tajik migrants (97.6% in 2019).  A majority of migrant men work in the construction sector mainly as unskilled laborers, while migrant women are in the service sector.  Although most migrants leave Tajikistan legally, some of them become irregular for various reasons, ranging from minor administrative to serious offenses (in December 2019, the number of migrants in the reentry ban list of the Russian Federation was 267,324).


The report reveals major problems during the premigration state including lack of access to information and skills training opportunities and the high cost of migration—the highest passport cost among Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries—and loans to pay for migration cost and maintaining family.  Most migrant workers (85.5%) reportedly had no skills training before departing. A majority (86%) also relied on friends and relatives when applying for employment.


Challenges faced by Tajik migrants in Russia include unemployment for a month or more, difficulty in obtaining work permit and work patent from various government agencies in Russia; shortage of the Ministry of Labor, Migration and Employment (MoLME) representatives to aid migrants; and limited access to legal remedies in the Russian Federation.  Stakeholders (including migrants) identified a lack of an adequate number of representatives in the destination countries as an obstacle in providing support to the migrant workers.


Destination-country work and living situations pose another set of problems.  The majority of migrants, low skilled and economically desperate, are willing to accept any working conditions. Most migrants also have nearly zero legal literacy.  These conditions can lead to labor exploitation by employers and police abuse and extortion by criminal gangs.  In addition, xenophobic attitudes in Russia, cited in interviews of returned migrants, are a major difficulty of working there


This report provides short-term recommendations for deported migrants and migrants in the reentry ban list of the Russian Federation in terms of immediate assistance. For all categories of returning migrants deported or voluntary, the report recommends medium- and long-term recommendations. Some of these recommendations include developing a return policy, early-warning mechanisms for Tajik migrant workers with reentry bans, legal aid services, and other concerns.


Further recommendations focus on the need to develop skills training based on international standards, provide language training, and recognize already acquired skills. Closely linked to these factors are the need to explore new labor markets and create overseas employment opportunities for destination countries other than CIS.


Source: Asia Plus