The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Government of Tajikistan have jointly facilitated the return home of over 200 Tajik migrants who had been stranded at the Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan border.

According to IOM Mission in Tajikistan, the new wave of Tajik migrants arrived home yesterday, early morning.  The movement was reportedly coordinated by the Government of Tajikistan with the cooperation of the Governments of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and facilitated by the IOM missions in the three countries. This transportation, as well as provision of humanitarian assistance prior departure was financed by the Kingdom of Norway.

Since introduction of quarantine measures, the International Organization for Migration – United Nations Migration Agency has supported return home of more than 1,800 Tajik nationals from Kazakhstan through Uzbekistan to Tajikistan, among them women, children, migrant workers, and students.  They all were stranded at the Zhibek Zholi border crossing point (BCP) at the Kazakhstan border with Uzbekistan in the hope of continuing their journey home to Tajikistan.  Some of them endured harsh conditions while waiting at the border for days or even weeks, often living without access to water, food and sanitary facilities, and without shelter, out in the open and fully exposed to the elements.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated governments to take containment measures designed to limit the spread of the virus.  These extraordinary measures, including travel and mobility restrictions, are having an impact on all people, but some are exacerbating the precarious situations and vulnerabilities of migrant populations and leading to a large number of migrants being stranded.

The UN Migration Agency recognizes and supports measures to contain the spreading of COVID-19 while emphasizing the right of migrants and their families to return.  IOM urges all stakeholders, in countries of destination, transit and origin, to explore ways to ensure that stranded migrants have the option to return safely to their countries of origin, all the while taking into full consideration public health measures, upholding the rights of migrant or displaced people.