Message from IOM
for Central Asia

We live in an age of unprecedented human mobility. Migration is considered one of the defining global issues of the early twenty-first century, with more and more people on the move today than at any other point in history


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Migration and Development in Central Asia

IOM is committed to the principle that “humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society”. Within this framework, IOM has a large role to play in supporting the efforts of states to manage labour migration, in particular short-term movements and circular migration.

In Central Asia, IOM has a well-es­tablished presence and a proactive approach toward emerging migra­tion issues. It has demonstrated good relationships with stakehold­ers at all levels, from policy makers to national governments to civil so­ciety to the private sector. In addi­tion, it has proven ability to gener­ate necessary expertise in a timely manner. These strengths enable IOM to run a complex, multi-fac­eted programme to address labour migration challenges on all levels.

Labour migration is becoming a widespread response by many fami­lies and individuals to the chal­lenges of poverty in Central Asia. Unemployment and poverty are perceived as push factors for la­bour migration. The majority of la­bour migrants consider their move­ment to be temporary and declare that they were forced to migrate because their income was insuffi­cient to feed their families. In most cases remittances sent by migrant workers are the only way to ensure livelihood for many families left in countries of origin.

Labour migrants contribute to growing economies of two key re­ceiving countries of the region: Kazakhstan and Russia. Migrants fill labour shortages in sectors of economy which do not attract the local population. Often, this migra­tion occurs in an irregular fashion, due to the complexity of legal pro­cedures for foreign workers and in­tricate process for issuing work per­mits in the region.

IOM’s programmatic approach to migration and development in Cen­tral Asia is driven by the following key priorities:

  • To promote socio-economic de­velopments of migrants, their families, their host communities and their sending communities;
  • To promote inter-state dialogue and harmonization of policies between labour receiving and sending countries;
  • To assist govern­ments and society in recognizing and understanding the contributions of labour migrants;
  • To work with gov­ernments to regu­larize labour mi­gration flows;
  • To promote and protect rights of labour migrants;
  • To mainstream migration into the development agenda at local, national and re­gional levels;
  • To assist la­bour migration throughout migra­tion cycle;

IOMs intervention on migration and development is built on the fol­lowing compo­nents:

  • Support to insti­tutional, policy and legislative developments;
  • Capacity building to manage la­bour migration processes;
  • Information-counseling servic­es and other assistance to mi­grants and their families.


According to various sources, estimated number of Kyrgyz migrants working abroad is 500 000 and 800 000 in any given year. Remittances sent by Kyrgyz migrant workers make up 25-30 % of GDP of the Kyrgyz Republic. Kyrgyz authorities are well aware of labour migration processes and of the link between migration, devel­opment and social affairs. IOM assists the Kyrgyz Government in protecting Kyrgyz labour migrants throughout the migration cycle. IOM is also working with the Kyrgyz Government to develop a modern system of labour migration management.

Support to institutional, policy and legislative developments

IOM has a long-standing role in pro­moting international standards in managing labour migration. Since labour migration is driven primarily by the laws of supply and demand in international labour markets, IOM applies a socio-economic ap­proach to efficiently manage this phenomenon.

IOM promotes understanding of labour migration and appreciation of the contribution of migrants through its Migration and Develop­ment programmes in Kyrgyzstan. It advocates for labour migrants to be considered an integral part of the National Employment Policy. Also, IOM promotes a single vi­sion among sending and receiving countries: providing decent labour for citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic both in domestic and foreign labour markets.

The “Managing Employment Abroad” Programme has three stages:

  • Pre-Employment Stage
  • Employment Stage
  • Post-Employment Stage

Each of these stages require estab­lishment of appropriate infrastruc­ture and policy interventions to en­sure orderly migration and protec­tion/promotion rights and interests of migrant-workers throughout the entire migration cycle.

Capacity building to manage labour migration processes

IOM works with government orga­nizations to build capacity in the area of labour migration. Extensive work has been done in Kyrgyzstan with regard to government capac­ity. IOM’s interventions consist of research, infrastructure assistance and advocacy.

In its Migration and Development programme, IOM has conducted la­bour market research. This research helps IOM, government partners and other partner organizations gain a better understanding of the areas of migrant employment as well as the factors that encourage migration.

IOM has assisted the government in establishing infrastructure to man­age employment abroad and estab­lishing labour attache institutions.

Finally, with regard to advocacy, IOM has worked with the govern­ment to create favourable business conditions for private recruitment agencies. It has also encouraged development of dispute settlement institutions in both sending and re­ceiving countries.

Information counseling services and other assistance to migrants and their families

One of the main pre-conditions of IOM’s migration and development program is a customer service ap­proach. IOM has adopted the prin­ciple of standardization of employ­ment services, and it promotes this approach in the Kyrgyz Republic.

IOM has worked to increase aware­ness of migration and of migrant rights in both Kyrgyzstan and re­ceiving countries. Information cam­paigns have been an essential tool in protecting the rights of migrant workers. Through NGO partners, IOM conducts television, radio and print campaigns to inform migrants of their rights and assist them in claiming these rights when nec­essary. IOM also works to protect and promote the rights of labour migrants through representational services.

Direct assistance is another area of IOM intervention and assistance. IOM develops and conducts pre-employment and pre-departure activities for labour migrants. It also provides assistance to migrant workers while they are in country.

Finally, IOM provides re-integration services to returned migrants.


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