IOM - International Organization for Migration

06/19/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/19/2020 07:54

IOM Organizing Transport Home for Hundreds of Stranded Tajik Migrants

Vienna - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is today supporting the voluntary return home of hundreds of Tajik migrants stranded at the Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan border due to restrictions imposed in the wake of COVID-19.

The group of 650 people are mainly migrant workers, and includes women, children and students. On Friday afternoon they were preparing to board buses funded by IOM to make the journey from the border crossing at Zhibek Zholi, through Uzbekistan, to Khojand in Tajikistan.

They are just some of the tens of thousands of migrant workers in Central Asia who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Many have come from the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and even further afield. They are typically working in low-paid jobs with little or no job security. Over a quarter of the returning migrants are between 15 and 24 years of age including 100 Tajik students from Kazakh universities. Fifteen percent of the group are women and girls.

While most of the migrants have only been waiting a few days to get across the border, some have been there for weeks, with little or no shelter and sanitation.

'We have been providing food, water and hygiene items for the migrants over the past few days while the logistics and paperwork were being organized,' said Sanjarbek Toshbaev, IOM's head of office in Uzbekistan.

The 180 km journey will take four hours and is being closely coordinated with the three governments. IOM has provided food, water and hygiene items for the migrants over the past few days while the logistics and paperwork were being organized.

'We recognize and support measures in place to contain the spreading of COVID-19, but we also stress the right of migrants to return to their places of origin', said IOM's Toshbaev. 'We need to work to find ways to get more stranded migrants home.'

The governments of the United States and Norway have provided funds, with UNICEF also contributing.

Watch video: Stranded migrants at Zhibek Zholi, the border crossing point between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

For More information please contact:

Joe Lowry at IOM Regional Office in Vienna, +43 660 377 6404, [email protected]