For our project in Kazakhstan, more than 10 EU MS shared their practices on the topic of migrant families with children. The development of communications tools is ongoing and will help our partners to provide better protection to the migrant families with children.

Background

Kazakhstan is a country of origin, destination and transit for many migrants in Central Asia. According to the World Bank (2021) in the post-Soviet region, Kazakhstan ranks third in the number of migrants received after Russia and Ukraine, attracting close to four million migrants, mostly from Central Asian and South Caucasus countries owing to increasing demand for both high-skilled labour in industry, business and education, and low-skilled labour in the agriculture and construction sector.

Despite a simplification of registration procedures in 2016, many labour migrants still end up working irregularly as many labour migrants from Central Asian countries enter Kazakhstan under a visa-free regime that allowed them to stay legally for 90 days Under this regime, it was not mandatory to register children under the age of 7 with the migration authorities, leading to a lack of data about how many migrant children there were in the country, absence from formal schooling or vulnerability to labour exploitation. This trend exacerbated with the pandemic as many migrants tried to reach and settle in the city and province of Almaty using irregular channels.

Requesting support

Migration authorities and civil society organisations held a number of coordination meetings to address the needs of families with children during the pandemic and demonstrated commitment to continue strengthening inter-institutional cooperation on this issue. It was in this context that the Human Rights Commissioner of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the NGO Centre for Social and Psychological Rehabilitation and Adaptation for Women and Children “Rodnik” requested our support to strengthen the capacities of these stakeholders to protect the rights of migrant families with children in Almaty and the Almaty region. 

A series of activities was designed to provide training as well as to present practices and recommendations that will be collected into a Handbook on information campaigns targeting migrants with children. Practices from ten countries in Europe were shared during several Knowledge Exchange Sessions in spring of 2022 to inspire Kazakh stakeholders in their own endeavours. In the coming months, practical workshops will equip the partners with new skills to develop new communication campaigns and strengthen collaboration among all parties.

In a mid-Action interview held with the partners from NGO Rodnik, they reported learning new information from European countries thanks to the Knowledge Exchange sessions. They will now look to apply these lessons learned, whilst allowing the experts to adapt their recommendations according to the local context.

As a general assessment of the Action, Anna Melenchuk, MIEUX+ Associate Project Officer in charge of this Action stated, “The Action offers practical tools and solutions to partners in Kazakhstan on how to effectively support migrant families with children. Our partners in Kazakhstan exchanged with their peers in the European Union, strengthened inter-institutional coordination on children and migration at local and national level and are now working on information campaign to inform migrant families with children about their rights in Kazakhstan. All these efforts will surely lead to better protection of migrant families with children in Almaty city, Almaty region and in the whole Kazakhstan.”

Download the Knowledge Sheet to see the European practices:

Going beyond the Action

The partner also reported that they were already sharing the recommendations from the report with their Central Asian partners and that they were willing to publish little bits of information on their website and social media channels for wider distribution. They are also discussing with their partners how some of the lessons learnt during the knowledge-exchange sessions could be applied in Kazakhstan. Moreover, they remarked that through this Action they were able to strengthen the relations with their partners in Central Asia and the EU and got new ideas for further collaboration with them beyond MIEUX+.

It is expected that after piloting the information campaign at local level, partner authorities would hold the campaign at local and national levels. In order to assist the partners in their endeavour, a Communication Plan is being developed by the MIEUX+ experts selected for this Action and will be presented before the end of the Action to the key stakeholders. The Action is also line with GCM objectives 3-7, 9, 10, 18, 22 and 23.

Our experience in protecting the rights of children in migration

Our experience on this topic has been forged through several Actions mainly in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. This topic is often cross cutting and children in migration are often part of one of multiple target groups as beneficiaries of Actions. It was in Brazil where we had an Action specifically targeting children, during the 2018-19 large flows of migrants hailing primarily from Venezuela support the Public Defender’s Office of Brazil by training 80 government officials in interviewing techniques for international protection applicants, especially children.