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 are 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)
- European Union (European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights – EIDHR)
- Oyu Tolgoi mining company (co-financing)
Strengthen Migration Management System: Due to the remoteness of the country’s vast international borders and challenges faced by its border and identity management systems, fraud, border inspection avoidance and visa violations are significant challenges for the Government of Mongolia and contribute to similar problems in neighboring countries. IOM provides technical support, in particular to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Labour, in:
- Assess and review the current border management systems, identify critical areas to be strengthened, and provide recommendations on technical and organizational improvements;
- Build capacity of immigration/border officials on improved border management (fraudulent document examination and security features of travel documents) and counter-trafficking;
- Support improved migration management at the policy level;
- Advance the agenda on labor migration management and labor mobility.
Assistance to Victims of Human Trafficking and Capacity Building: The incidence of human trafficking is still significant in Mongolia, particularly of young women and girls who are sexually exploited for commercial gain. The main destination country is the People’s Republic of China, including Macau and Hong Kong Special Autonomous Regions.
Since 2007, IOM has provided direct assistance and reintegration packages to Mongolian victims of trafficking. This has been done in partnership with the Mongolian Gender Equality Centre (MGEC) to provide direct assistance, including medical and psychosocial support, legal assistance, return assistance, as well as livelihood and vocational training. In particular MGEC manages a shelter for victims of human trafficking in Ulaanbaatar and a drop-in center in Zamiin-Uud, at the border with China. Between 2013 and May 2016, IOM supported MGEC to deliver direct assistance to 76 victims of human trafficking. Assistance was supported by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) of the European Union.
IOM is also engaged in sensitizing and improving the knowledge on human trafficking among members of parliament, civil society and representatives of government authorities. Moreover, IOM aims at improving government officials’ capacity in victim identification, assistance and referral to protection services.
Promote the rights of internal migrants and their access to social services: IOM, in partnership with ECPAT National Network, has implemented activities in mining impacted areas in the Southern Province of Mongolia (Umnugobi) to promote access to social services for the internal migrant population, and enhance livelihood and socio-economic conditions of vulnerable migrant women and their families. This has been achieved through capacity building of local government officials, training of migrant women and support through “settlement support grants”.
Between 2013 and 2015, thanks to the support of the European Union EIDHR:
- 100 migrant women were trained on income generation and life skills including human trafficking risks;
- 50 migrant women were trained on business plan development;
- 20 selected migrant women were provided with a “settlement support grant” to implement their business plans.
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 2015 alone, 565 individuals benefitted from return and reintegration assistance to Mongolia.
- 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.
- IOM internal funds: Emergency and Post Crisis Fund
In the winter of 2009/2010, -50ºC temperatures killed more than 8.5 million animals in Mongolia, threatening the livelihoods and food security of the herders, who comprise nearly one third of the total population. This was part of the complex and long-standing "Dzud" phenomenon where summer drought was followed by a long winter with heavy snow or extreme temperatures. The Dzud also highlighted long-standing development issues such as lack of registration for new arrivals in the peri-urban communities of Ulaanbaatar, insufficient access to services for these migrants, and a lack of alternative livelihood skills for the rural communities apart from agricultural production. In response to the Dzud in 2009/2010, IOM conducted an assessment of the movements, intentions and needs of those most affected. The recommendations and findings of the Displaced Rural Herder Communities Response Assessment and Intentions Survey were presented to the National Emergency Management Agency. Mongolia experienced another unusually harsh Dzud in 2015/16 which killed 1.1 million livestock.
In order to assist the Mongolian government and international community to effectively respond to natural disasters, IOM is working with the Mongolian government (National Emergency Management Agency), the UN, and other partners to assist with contingency planning for future disaster scenarios by taking the lead and building capacity on "Camp Coordination and Camp Management" Cluster (CCCM) activities.
- Support to the government of Mongolia in contingency planning for future disaster scenarios
Main text: November 2016
Facts and figures: July 2016