Kazakhstan became an IOM Member State on 2 December 2002. As the Country Office with Coordinating Functions for Central Asia, the IOM mission in Kazakhstan helps to address specific sub-regional migration issues and emerging trends in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, establishing priorities for project development and resource mobilization, and stimulating, directing and supporting project development in the country offices in the context of sub-regional strategies, policies and consultative processes.

IOM Strategy in Central Asia

The strategic vision of IOM Central Asia is to maximize the potential for migration to contribute to development and economic growth in Central Asia. To achieve this vision and fulfill IOM’s mandate to promote humane and orderly migration management, the following objectives have been defined:

  • To improve understanding of migration among governments, communities and employers.

  • To help establish efficient migration management systems and address issues surrounding irregular migration.
  • To promote and protect the rights of migrants.
  • To contribute to poverty reduction in Central Asia among migrants, home communities and host communities.
  • To help create an enabling environment for decent labour, equal employment opportunities and implementation of best practices.
  • To support community stabilization and migrant integration in conflict-prone areas.
  • To provide assistance to people on the move.
  • To address the many issues associated with human trafficking, including prevention of trafficking and protection of victims.

Critical Migration Challenges in the Region

Central Asia faces several critical issues in migration management. These issues reflect economic, political and social tensions that exist throughout the region. Crucial migration issues in Central Asia include:

  • Insufficient inter-state dialogue on migration issues and difficulties in harmonizing international, regional and national migration processes.
  • Inadequate national and regional migration policies and an underdeveloped legislative framework.
  • Poor data collection, management and sharing, leading to inadequate understanding of the actual scope of migration and irregular migration.
  • Underdeveloped capacity to deal with migration challenges. There is a need for more understanding of migration issues among state agencies, as well as building capacity to deal with migration and manage borders.
  • Inadequate legal and social framework to protect migrants, particularly their human rights.
  • Widespread labour and sexual exploitation of migrants.
  • Lack of optimizing remittances: in a context where a high proportion of many Central Asian countries’ GDP comes from migrants working abroad. Governments lack the capacity to mainstream migration into the development agenda.
  • The political uncertainty and disaster-prone geography that characterizes Central Asia requires community stabilization and disaster risk reduction.

Integrated Approach In Central Asia

The five countries of Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – are closely linked in terms of history and culture. Migration issues in these countries are therefore also linked and share strong commonalities. In an effort to address these issues, and to support economic and political cooperation among the five Central Asia states, IOM has recently adopted an area-based approach to the five countries of Central Asia with a coordination office in Astana, Kazakhstan.

To ensure coherence and long-term sustainable solutions, IOM has implemented a unified management approach to the Central Asian countries. This approach has allowed IOM to increase the capacities of individual missions in terms of fundraising, operability, accountability, transparency and professionalism. It also helps the Coordination Office to manage and oversee programmes, enabling IOM to increase its capacity in Central Asia while decreasing operational costs.

In Central Asia, IOM’s integrated approach has created a strong competitive advantage. This advantage arises from three factors. First, IOM’s unified management system increases its capacity in the region while decreasing operational costs, allowing efficient management and helping to ensure maximum impact. Second, IOM has a strong focus on teamwork. Not only do IOM missions within Central Asia work closely together on regional projects, but there is also close cooperation with IOM missions outside the immediate cluster area, especially with Russia. Finally, IOM’s long-standing presence in the region has allowed it to develop wide expertise. IOM has extensive knowledge about the programmatic, geo-political, cultural and socio-economic dynamics of Central Asia.

IOM’s regional programming promotes improved coordination and coherence on cross-border issues and leverages the competitive advantage of IOM’s field presence in all five Central Asian countries. In addition, IOM’s regional programming allows it to engage in close, coordinated cooperation with a variety of governments and civil society organizations. This coordination has led to a strong track record of delivering results.