Official launch of the Swiss Development Cooperation regional project with Un Migration, to strengthen safe labour migration in Central Asia

Local news, 11.10.2022

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and its partner IOM – the International Organisation for Migration – have gathered the main governmental stakeholders from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan in Astana to learn more and discuss about this new 4-year initiative.

Swiss Ambassador with the delegations from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Swiss Ambassador with the delegations from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. © FDFA

"With this programme, we hope to contribute to a win-win-win situation, whereby labor migration serves the best interests of the migrants, the private sector, as well as countries of origin and destination", noted Ambassador Grichting.

Mobility between Central Asia and towards Kazakhstan represents one of the largest and most important labour migration corridors in the world. Labour migration within Central Asia and a small number of countries of destination constitutes a lifeline for millions of families in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan has emerged as a country of destination for Central Asian migrants as its growing economy and relative wealth and higher salaries attract workers into its labour market. Given visa-free movement between Central Asian countries and Kazakhstan, as well as free labour mobility among Eurasian Economic Union Member States, the vast majority of migration in this corridor occurs in an unstructured manner. The challenges created by this informality include a lack of skills matching, resulting in a lower productivity of employees, little or no investments in the upskilling of migrants, and unaddressed exploitative practices. There is a growing awareness among governments in the region of the need to develop the recruitment industry and to diversify the countries of destination in order to create better opportunities for workers.

Through this programme, SDC contributes to a stronger governance of labour mobility in the Central Asian region, notably the migration corridor towards Kazakhstan, for the benefit and protection of Central Asian migrant workers and their families. One part of the project aims at supporting the Central Asian governments in facilitating reintegration, and another aim is to diversify the countries of destination for labour migrants.

Switzerland is committed to facilitate a labour migration that takes place within a sound legal and social framework. This includes the preparation of migrant workers, the establishment of fair and ethical recruitment processes, and also requires political dialogue between countries of origin and destination. It is based on the understanding that labour migration will continue to be critical to the economic development of Central Asia – a region with which Switzerland celebrates 30 years of diplomatic relations.