The Republic of Mongolia joined IOM as a member in 2008. IOM activities in the country are grounded on a Cooperation Agreement signed on 27 November 2010. In 2011 IOM opened an office in Ulaanbaatar and since then has been contributing to the efforts of the Government of Mongolia to manage migration effectively through a wide variety of projects and programmes.
Over the past 20 years, Mongolia has transformed into a vibrant multiparty democracy and the country has experienced an economic boom, driven by the mining sector, with a significant GDP growth as well as increased in-and-outbound migration flows.
International migration has significantly increased with an estimated one in eleven Mongolians living abroad (2011). International migration and mobility of Mongolians is growing exponentially with approximately 65 per cent of Mongolians migrating for economic reasons (IOM, 2010). It is estimated that 130,000 Mongolian migrants were living abroad in 2016, with many in an irregular situation. Normally Mongolian migrants to foreign countries are young people educated and skilled who are in search of higher paid jobs and a better quality of life for themselves and their families. These migrants are mainly males and traveling to other Asian countries (with the majority to China, Russia, Republic of Korea and Japan) some countries in Europe (i.e., Belgium, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland) and the United States.
Concerning migration towards Mongolia, according to the Mongolia Immigration Agency, as of June 2016 there were more than 42,000 migrants from 128 countries residing in Mongolia regularly. Migrant workers come mainly from China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russia and Central Asian countries.
Internal migration has grown too, especially rural-to-urban (Ulaanbaatar) and, very recently, to mining areas. Mongolia has a rich cultural history steeped in a nomadic way of life. However, rural poverty triggered by a combination of unemployment, low incomes, desertification and natural disasters has led to many opting to leave their traditional way of life for urban centers. Almost half (47 percent) of the Mongolian population is currently living in Ulaanbaatar and the share of the urban population has increased to 67 percent of the total population.
Such dramatic increases in migration have brought about an array of challenges for the Government of Mongolia and profound consequences for the political, social and economic fabric of the country. Challenges related to internal migration include: overpopulation of the capital, rural-urban inequalities, imbalanced social development, lack of adequate structures to protect migrant rights, and limited access to social services for internal migrants. Cross-border challenges include unsafe migration, fraud, border inspection avoidance, visa violations and an increase incidence of human trafficking.
Human trafficking occurs across borders and also within Mongolia. Mongolian girls and young women are the main victims of human trafficking, mainly for sexual exploitation or commercially brokered marriages, but there are cases of men and women subjected to forced labor.
The Government of Mongolia has indicated its interest in prioritizing migration by including the protection of migrants’ human rights and increasing the positive impact of migration as key issues in the national development agenda. In the past years, IOM has supported the government in improving migration management and building capacity for improved border management and counter trafficking efforts.
- IOM Development Fund (IDF)
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
- The United States’ Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP)
Reducing the Vulnerabilities of Rural to Urban Migrants
With support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), IOM Mongolia is currently working with the National University of Mongolia (NUM) and the Ger Community Mapping Centre (GCMC) to better understand the rural to urban migration and the vulnerabilities and challenges experienced by newly arrived migrants. The project will collect and analyse qualitative and quantitative data to develop a better, more accurate understanding of why many Mongolians are moving from rural areas into Ulaanbaatar, the difficulties they face when arriving and their future intentions. This research will inform a report that will be presented to key government departments in view of a policy dialogue to reduce urban migrants’ level of vulnerability.
Strengthening Counter-Trafficking Cooperation
With support from the US Department of State, IOM Mongolia is currently working with IOM regional offices in China and Hong Kong to maximize the impact and sustainability of bilateral cooperation on trafficking in persons. The project will support the efforts and capacity of the Mongolian Government and civil society in investigation and prosecution of trafficking, and victim support, including through support for full implementation of Mongolia's 2012 Anti-trafficking Law. Capacity gained through improved bilateral cooperation will also have a significant, positive impact on counter-trafficking and victim protection efforts in Mongolia, People’s Republic of China, and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong SAR) which operates under its own, separate legal and law enforcement system.
Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration
The objective of Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) is to provide assistance for the period immediately after return of Mongolian nationals from abroad to help them settle and reintegrate. It is not intended as long-term assistance, but aims to help returnees in the process of reintegrating in society and return to a normal life.
The reintegration assistance may typically consist of one or more of the following components: vocational training courses; formal education for adults and/ or children; language courses; access to job placements; assistance in providing necessary tools for self-employment initiatives; information on job placements; and advice and referral to services available locally.
IOM has been supporting Mongolian nationals abroad to return home well before 2008. This AVR scheme has helped over 5,000 Mongolians find their way safely back to their home country. In 2017 alone, 226 individuals benefitted from return, from over 11 countries, and reintegration assistance to Mongolia.
Climate Change and Disaster Related Migration
Mongolia’s unique geographical location and dependence of the nation’s rural population on animal husbandry make Mongolia particularly vulnerable to environmental changes and severe weather events. The increasing trend of rural to urban migration in Mongolia has been linked to factors resulting from climate change, such as declining livelihood opportunities in rural areas that have been amplified by increasing incidences of severe droughts and winter storms (dzuds). If the trends continue, the increasing incidences of disasters will drive higher rates of rural to urban migration into Ulaanbaatar where government officials are already facing significant challenges to accommodate new arrivals.
This project will support government officials to have improved skills and knowledge to track climate change and disaster related migration and coordinate their responses. Specifically, this project will focus on improving the coordination of onsite responses to events in rural locations and will aim to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the GoM’s provision of shelter, water, food, fodder and other necessities to rural households to minimise instances of forced migration.
- Strengthening Migration Management in Mongolia (2010-2011). For more information on project outcomes, see the Project Factsheet.
- Strengthening the Management of Labour Migration and Counter Trafficking in Mongolia (2012-2014). For more information on project outcomes, see the Project Factsheet.
- Supporting the Government of Mongolia to Improve Migration Management through Migration Management Policy and Training of Border Officials (2014-2016). For more information on project outcomes, see the Project Factsheet.
- Protecting the Rights of Migrant Women and Victims of Trafficking in Mongolia (2013-2015). For more information on project outcomes, see the Project Factsheet.
- Protecting the Rights of Vulnerable Migrants and Victims of Human Trafficking in Mongolia (2016-2018). For more information of the project objectives, see the Project Factsheet.
- China: Strengthening Bilateral Counter-Trafficking Cooperation with Mongolia and Hong Kong SAR (2018 – 2021)
- Understanding and Managing Internal Migration in Mongolia (2017-2018). For more information on project outcomes, see the Project Factsheet.
- Climate Change and Disaster Related Migration in Mongolia (2017-2019). For more information on project outcomes, see the Project Factsheet.
Main text: May 2018
Facts and figures: May 2018