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.