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28 September 2017

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Tatiana Hadjiemmanuel, Head of IOM’s Kazakhstan Office (centre) with community and spiritual leaders at Global Compact for Migration discussions in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan yesterday. Photo: Elyor Nematov/IOM 2017

Migration Takes Centre Stage in Central Asia

Bishkek – Central Asia has been a region of transit and mobility throughout human history. It contains much of the Silk Road of old and was the theatre for the “Great Game” for power between the Russian and British Empires in the 19th century.

Nowadays Central Asia is both an origin and destination for migrants. This dynamic came under the spotlight in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek this week, with meetings of the government-led regional cooperation platform known as the Almaty Process, and discussions on the upcoming Global Compact for Migration.

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Migrant workers praying outside the central mosque in Moscow during its construction. Photo: Elyor Nematov/IOM 2013

Exposed to Extremism: How Central Asian Migrants Become Vulnerable to Radicalization

Central Asia (IOM) – One of the most keenly discussed topics at the meeting of the Almaty Process countries in Bishkek this week was the thorny subject of radicalization. 

Piotr Kazmierkiewicz, IOM Lead International Expert, sat down with IOM Senior Media Officer Joe Lowry to discuss the findings in a recently commissioned study entitled Assessing Risks and Opportunities Associated with Return Migration: Framework for Understanding and Identifying Needs for Interventions.

JL: We often talk about routes and journeys when we talk about migration. Is there any typical route towards radicalization of migrants in Central Asia?

PK: No, we can’t really say there’s any one path. It’s a complex journey, combining both ideological and socioeconomic factors. And then you have to add in the socio-cultural situation in the countries of destination and origin. On the economic side, you have poverty, unemployment and an inability to feed the family. On the social side you might have constant experiences of mistreatment multiplied by the subjective perspective such as feelings of injustice and an inability to make life meaningful. Ideological factors then are based on the dissemination of radical ideas by extremist groups in Russia and Central Asia, as well as the absence of possibilities for religious development in secular states.

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Sabina: "We can learn from migrants and see them as the strong individuals that are equal to us, rather than people who automatically need help."
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Samad: "All the experiences I've had contribute to my desire to help others regardless of their background or the terms that might apply to them."
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Through a Migrant's Eyes

Sadbarg (38) sees more in the photographs than most of the other 100 or so people at the exhibition in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She looks longer, more deeply at the pictures of the shuffling, awkward people caught in time. The faces peering out of train windows, the cold, pinched faces on a building site, the exhausted faces lying on wooden bunks. She sees her life.

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Migration in the News


  • AP reported that IOM Director General William Lacy Swing warned about increasing reports of sexual violence directed at Rohingya Muslims, who have been fleeing violence in Myanmar in recent weeks.
  • AFP reported that the nearly half a million Rohingya refugees who have entered Bangladesh since August will likely not be leaving soon, the UN said, calling for longer-term plans to manage the influx.
  • Canadian Press reported that Oxfam Canada says hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, who have been fleeing violence in Myanmar in recent weeks, are without shelter and clean water in flooded refugee camps.
  • Medan Bisnis Daily (IND) reported that Rohingya refugees in Medan, North Sumatra are grateful for the daily support of the Indonesian government and IOM. They are currently waiting for resettlement as they have been staying there for seven years. 
  • Xinhua reported that the European Commission rolled out a new scheme to bring at least 50,000 refugees to Europe over the next two years, in a bid to curb human smuggling in the Mediterranean.
  • Middle East Monitor reported that the European Union has resettled 30,000 asylum seekers out of 100,000 it was due to relocate from mainly Greece and Italy.
  • Reuters and DPA reported that a Libyan coast guard vessel fired shots and boarded a humanitarian ship in the Mediterranean on Tuesday, demanding that the migrants on board be handed over to them, Mission Lifeline charity said.
  • TRT reported that  thousands of people, many from earthquake-ravaged Haiti, are crossing the US border to seek asylum in Canada.
  • AFP reported that Pope Francis urged people across the world to open their arms to migrants, as Catholic charity Caritas launched its “Share the Journey” campaign on migration. The campaign is also being backed by other organizations.
  • Voice of America reported that the United States is ending a program that allowed children fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to apply for refugee status in the United States before leaving home. The government will instead focus on ‘more targeted’ refugee processing in Central America, working with the government of Costa Rica and the UN.


Trending on the Internet

  • Bloomberg reported that Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico may offer a preview for Americans of one of the most jarring potential consequences of global warming: the movement of large numbers of people pushed out of their homes by the effects of climate change.
  • Rappler reported that nine Filipina artists came together at the Philippine embassy in Berlin to hold an art exhibit featuring works inspired by their experiences as immigrants.




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