National and international partners last week formally launched the project, Protecting Children Affected by Migration in Southeast, South and Central Asia, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by UNICEF, the Government of Tajikistan led by the Ministry of Labor, Migration and Employment of the Population, and UN, such as UNHCR and IOM and NGO partners such as Save the Children.

According to UNICEF’s Tajikistan Country Office, the 42-month project is being implemented in seven countries across Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

It reportedly aims to enable children affected by migration (and their caregivers), including those left behind by migrating parents, to access the necessary social and protection services.  In Tajikistan, the project will be implemented in selected districts and will cover various issues ranging from access to social protection to issuance of identification documents for unregistered children.

In the opening event, the Deputy Minister of Labor, Migration and Employment of the Population, Nourullo Mahmadullozoda, stressed “migration issues are very important and relevant to Tajikistan, since we have been experiencing this issue for over twenty years now. Unfortunately, migration affects not only adults but also children. This field needs to be thoroughly researched and analyzed.”  He expressed hope that this project will tackle some of the migration-related issues affecting children, and that assistance will be provided to their families.

Following the opening, Maciej Madalinski, Head of Cooperation Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Tajikistan mentioned, “Migration is a priority for the EU. Despite the current migration management focus, human rights and in particular children’s rights remain at the heart of European development policy.  I am happy that this regional project can further contribute to protecting the rights of those most affected by migration - children - in the complex reality of Central Asia.”

Luciano Calestini, UNICEF Representative in Tajikistan, welcomed the breadth of partnerships and the opportunity to generate best practices from this experience.  “There is no easy response to migration or its drivers; it is one of the socio-economic issues that are defining this era and every country is learning by doing. This project is a learning opportunity for us – to document what works, what does not work, and to share our experience with other countries.  No single institution or organization can resolve these challenges alone, and this is why we are pleased to have such a wide range of organizations and institutions participating in this initiative.” 

It is expected that by the end of the project in 2021, authorities and service providers in Tajikistan will have the capacity to include children affected by migration in well-resourced and standardized protection systems for children; national policies and services will guarantee access of all children affected by migration to national social welfare, child protection, education, health and legal aid services; and policies and procedures will be revised to allow the registration of children affected by migration and to address childhood statelessness.