Protecting rights of migrant children and their families in Kazakhstan

In recent years, Kazakhstan has attracted close to four million migrants, arriving mostly from Central Asian and South Caucasus countries. Visa over stayers and those who do not fulfil the administrative requirements for work permits fall into irregularity, prompting a situation of vulnerability for themselves and for their families.

Almaty is one the main destination regions for migrant workers, including families and children from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Migrant families are not obligated to register under 16-year olds upon arrival with visa-free travel. This leads to a situation where many underage children are present in the country without legal recognition and do not have access to education, free medical services, including vaccinations, social housing or social security. Moreover, younger migrant children often accompany parents at work while older children are sometimes forced to work, with girls between 12 and 17 employed as nannies, and boys working in markets and agriculture.

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” wish to redress the situation and enable more efficient collaboration between all actors to protect the rights of migrant families with children in the city and region of Almaty. This includes redoubling efforts to reach migrant families and their children so they are aware of what services they can have access to in the Almaty region.

After preliminary research and co-designing the activities together with the Commissioner and Rodnik, the MIEUX+ support will see a series of experts from European institutions and local experts in Kazakhstan involved in providing recommendations on how to improve the collection of data on migrant children in Kazakhstan and how to set up an inter-institutional mechanism for the protection of the rights of migrant families. The institutions that are targeted to take part include the areas of statistics, family issues, Children’s Ombudsman, Committee on Migration of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Migration Service Committee of the Ministry of Interior, as well the embassies of the main sending countries of migrants.

Deliverables co-developed with partners and experts

A handbook and a communication plan for an information campaign targeting migrant families so they are more aware of their rights and those of their children will complement these recommendations. The first step towards these goals is to assess the capacities and needs on the ground with a series of consultations that took place from 06-13 December 2021. While this activity was planned to be organised onsite in Nur Sultan and Almaty, due to new COVID-19 restrictions caused by Omicron variant of COVID-19 the consultations were organised in the online format.

MIEUX+ experts had an opportunity to exchange with various stakeholders in the area of children and migration both at national and local levels in order to:

  • Analyse legislative and institutional frameworks concerning the protection of migrant families with children with particular focus on migration data and statistics and inter-institutional coordination on protecting migrant children;
  • Suggest recommendations for improving the collection of data on migrant children in Kazakhstan;
  • Acquire a baseline of partners’ capacities and needs in effectively communicating with migrant families with children in Almaty and the Almaty region.

Combined with the desk research, consultations with key stakeholders provided an excellent overview of the challenges and opportunities for the protection of the rights of migrant families with children in Kazakhstan. Following the consultations and desk research, MIEUX+ experts are working on the Capacities and Needs Assessment Report that will be presented to key stakeholders in February 2022.

Find out more about the Action on our interactive map.