More than a million citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic are in temporary or permanent migration around the world, most of them in the Russian Federation. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional challenges and forced up to 200 thousand Kyrgyzstanis to return home, exacerbating the already difficult situation in Kyrgyzstan.
While acknowledging the strong impact of migration on Kyrgyzstan demographic and socio-economic development, the main challenges and concerns of Kyrgyz authorities are to secure the sustainable socio-economic development of the country. This requires concerted efforts and evidence-based policies aimed at addressing the negative impact of migration, while also reaping its positive impact for the development of Kyrgyzstan.
To that end, the United Nations Development Programme in Kyrgyzstan in partnership with the International Organization for Migration are organising the Round Table Making Migration Work for Development in Kyrgyzstan. It is aimed at presenting the most recent available data on migration in the country and promoting the idea of mainstreaming migration into national and local development policies and strategic documents.
During this event, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, UNDP and IOM will co- present the recently approved Concept of State Policy on Migration, the findings of the UNDP-IOM Assessment of local authorities’ perceptions towards returned migrants and their readiness to support them and IOM Report on Mapping of Kyrgyz Diaspora, Compatriots and Migrants Abroad.
“In Kyrgyzstan, the government approved the Concept of Migration Policy for 2021–2030, which represents a long-term vision for managing migration processes. The new policy approves the main country’s priorities on addressing migration and making it work for the development of Kyrgyzstan. Among other areas, the strategic document highlights the importance of creating a special assistance program to ensure the return and sustainable reintegration of returning migrants, especially women and children." said Kaimazarov Tashtanbek Turarovich, Director of the Department of External Migration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Given the profound local dimension of return migration, understanding the role of national and local authorities in this process and supporting returnees as a result of the pandemic, including from the local development and social cohesion lenses, is a key step for devising concrete reintegration measures and responses.
“Lack of proper data is one of the main challenges for devising proper migration and COVID-19 recovery policies and responses at the local level. To better understand the local contexts where migrants return, the readiness and perceptions of local authorities to support the reintegration of returning migrants, their opinions and attitudes towards returnees, capacity gaps, and possible root causes of tensions, UNDP and IOM undertook a dedicated assessment in 10 target communities in the regions of Osh, Batken, Chui and Talas affected by migration.” stated Erkinbek Kasybekov, UNDP Assistant Resident Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic.
The UNDP-IOM assessment highlighted that there has been no reintegration support, both at national and local levels, for the returnees who had lost their ability to work and support their families back home. It also revealed numerous additional challenges faced by returned Kyrgyz migrants such as financial, social, legal, informational, psychological, health and many others. Ultimately, findings also unpacked a strong migrants’ willingness to engage in the development of their native communities back home and invest their money, knowledge and expertise acquired abroad, subject to transparency and cooperation with local authorities.
In 2021 IOM has conducted the mapping of the Kyrgyz diaspora, compatriots and migrants abroad. The main goal of this exercise was to provide an up-to-date overview of the demographic and socioeconomic profile of diaspora, compatriots, migrants abroad, and level of interest to invest in the development and climate actions in Kyrgyzstan, as well as their remittances flows. The study revealed that 88% of respondents send money to family members and close relatives in Kyrgyzstan. The report concludes with a recommendation to foster the inclusion of diaspora members, compatriots, and migrants in the development actions, and to engage them through a communication platform.
“There is a tendency for increasing of return intentions among the Kyrgyz diaspora abroad. Thus, the 2021 mapping of Kyrgyz diaspora, compatriots and migrants abroad revealed that 66% of respondents intend to return to Kyrgyzstan for permanent residence, whereas in the 2015 mapping this group comprised only 47%,” - Bermet Moldobaeva, Head of IOM Office in the Kyrgyz Republic.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes migration as a core development element, hence marking the first-time where migration is explicitly part of the global development agenda. In 2018, many countries adopted the Global Compact on Migration, setting out a country's vision on the empowerment, benefits, and contribution of migration to the development and prosperity of countries. This event fits into Government efforts to effectively manage migration for development and will serve as a platform to discuss existing migration challenges, priorities, solutions, and the use of available evidence as a framework for strategic migration policy planning at national and regional levels.