It is estimated that about 1 million Kyrgyz citizens are currently in labor migration. Destination countries for external migrants from the Kyrgyz Republic are mainly the Russian Federation (about 800,000 citizens), the Republic of Kazakhstan (35,000), and Turkey (30,000).
On November 25, a round table was held to present the results of the study, which was attended by deputies of the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic; employees of the Ministry of Labor, Social Development and Migration; representatives of non-profit organizations; representatives of international organizations; experts on migration; labor migrants and others.
"Unfortunately, we think of migrants only when it comes to their money, 'Remittances of labor migrants constitute a significant part of Kyrgyzstan's GDP and are a mechanism to eradicate poverty in the country’. Who/What is a labor migrant? Is a migrant an economic or social phenomenon? Is a citizen of KR a money-making machine that can work anywhere and in different conditions?" These and other questions were raised by political scientist Emil Joroev during the panel and general discussion. Participants were also able to hear the voices of migrants. Gulkayir Azizbaeva, migrant, Moscow / Zholdoshev Kubanychbek, migrant, Ust-Srednekansk, Magadan region of Russia shared their migration experience.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic, in 2021 the number of those who received Russian citizenship from Kyrgyzstan was more than 19,000. The Insan-Leilek Public Foundation, which works to protect the rights of labor migrants, notes an increase in the number of returning migrants with Russian citizenship after the start of Russian military operations in Ukraine. This is due to the fear of general military mobilization of the population.
International sanctions measures have affected many areas of labor, including those areas where most workers are traditionally employed - migrants from Central Asian countries. According to migrant workers, in the first place is the service sector (these are cab drivers, couriers, cleaning, etc.) - 28%.
Presumably, the reason for the decline in migrants' income in the delivery sector is the rising cost of food and meals from restaurants. Due to the deteriorating economy, many Russians have decided to optimize their expenses. In addition, the closure of fast-food chains of international companies like McDonald's, KFC, etc. and the suspension of Apple Pay and Google Pay payment services may have also contributed to the collapse of the food delivery market.
The impact of sanctions on migrant incomes. Tight labor market conditions have certainly impacted migrant workers' monthly incomes. Remittances of labor migrants constitute a significant part of Kyrgyzstan's GDP and are a mechanism to eradicate poverty in the country.
But the decrease in the income of migrant workers due to the difficulty of employment and mass layoffs significantly reduced the level of remittances. According to migrants, it had a negative impact on the standard of living of migrants' families back home. 49% of respondents confirmed that their families back home had already begun to experience financial difficulties.
This study was made possible with the financial support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Kyrgyzstan, and was executed by the Insan-Leilek Public Foundation.
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