Remittances of Uzbek Migrants Abroad Help Families Left Behind

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Azamjon featured above
Aisultan Taubay for the Safe Migration in Central Asia activity

Millions of Central Asians work abroad to remit money back to their families to ensure social security and better education for the family members they leave behind.

Azamjon, a 31-year-old immigrant from Uzbekistan working in Aktobe, Kazakhstan, supports his wife, two children, father, and a sister. “Every month I send up to 75 percent of my monthly income to my family, so they can buy groceries, pay utility bills, school fees, and private lessons for my children,” Azamjon remarked.

According to the Central Bank of Uzbekistan remittances from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan in 2020 totaled more than $380 million USD. These funds then contribute to the local economy. 

Recent research shows that bulk of these remittances contribute to the household budgets in developing countries, thereby improving living conditions, reducing poverty, and increasing well-being. The recipient households generally have higher  levels of consumer spending and lower incidences of extreme poverty than their counterparts who do not have access to such resources.

“I want my family to afford everything they want. I want my children to get the education they need. That’s why, regardless of how I feel being apart from my family, I know why I am doing it. I do it for my family,” said Azamjon. He tried to work in Uzbekistan, but the money he was earning was not sufficient to cover basic expenses.

Azamjon was only 18 when he started working in construction in the city of Shymkent, Kazakhstan. He quickly learned the local language and sometimes helped other migrants by communicating between them and their employers. “I’ve worked in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, but I prefer to work in Kazakhstan because I think  people are more kind here. Since I know the language I can always explain if things go differently than planned, and my bosses usually understand the circumstances,” Azamjon said.

He recalls that all migrants were in a very vulnerable position during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they had no jobs, and no money, but they tried to unite to help each other as much as they could.  “We [migrants] helped one another, shared bread, tried to help with accommodations, as not everyone could rent an apartment during the pandemic. We united, but we lacked information on how to get our visa registrations extended and we didn’t want to jeopardize our situation by breaking immigration rules,” recalled Azamjon.

Most labor migrants had no financial support during the pandemic. USAID Safe Migration in Central Asia activity partnered with different NGOs across Kazakhstan to provide support services, as well as humanitarian aid, to more than 1,000 migrants. Gulnura Idigeyeva, Director of Darys NGO said that through the partnership with Safe Migration activity, Darys provided psychological consultations and legal advice to 64 migrants in Aktobe between December 2020 and May 2021.

“I know around 150 migrants here in Aktobe. When they approach me searching for help with language barriers or legal issues, I refer them to Darys, as I myself got legal advice there,” shared Azamjon. He says he always advises his peers to work in a responsible manner, be kind and understanding towards employers, and to submit documents to migration authorities on time.

Azamjon along with many other migrants wants to continue working in Kazakhstan and he understands the importance of extending the registration legally and not to abuse local regulations. However, Azamjon complained that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the updates on local migration regulations as migration offices don’t always give full explanations. “I know the language and can communicate in Kazakh, but it’s very challenging for migrants who don’t understand the language and don’t understand the law, so it’s very helpful that legal advice is provided by organizations that help migrants. They explain everything in detail,” said Azamjon.

He hopes that one day he will get permanent residence in Kazakhstan and will be able to move his family. He used to visit his family every three or four months, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and consecutive closures of the border it’s been almost two years since he last visited his family. “I miss them, but I know that it’s best if I continue working in Kazakhstan and provide for my family,” says Azamjon.

ABOUT THIS STORY:

Through the Safe Migration in Central Asia activity and its local NGO partners, USAID is delivering much-needed assistance including informational resources; referrals to essential services; alternative livelihoods support; and skills training to help migrants navigate the difficult situation they are facing. USAID is also ensuring that migrants’ rights are protected through access to legal and psychological support. More information is available on USAID Central Asia’s website: https://www.usaid.gov/central-asia-regional/fact-sheets/safe-migration-central-asia.

Last updated: July 21, 2021

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