MOSCOW, May 18, 2011 — With growth in migration flows intensifying dramatically, especially in receiving countries like Russia and Kazakhstan, better legislation and institutions are key to improving labor flows in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), concluded migration experts during the Second Annual Conference of the Migration and Remittance Peer Assisted Learning (MIRPAL) network, held in Moscow on May 16-18.
The three-day conference, organized with the World Bank’s assistance, gathered more than 80 practitioners, researchers, non-government representatives, stakeholders, and policy makers from nine member countries: Armenia, Belarus, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, as well as representatives from development partner organizations – the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNIFEM), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the World Bank – and international migration experts.
In his welcoming speech Pedro Alba, World Bank Country Director for Russia, noted that “Migration flows between CIS countries have been increasing rapidly in recent years, with 35 million more migrants, or accounting for 40 percent of all developing world migration.”
He explained that, historically this phenomenon is linked to the creation of millions of international migrants at the time of the dissolution of the former Soviet Union through the advent of the independent CIS states in the early 1990’s. Since the early 2000’s, however, most of the migration flows have been linked to employment in rapidly developing CIS economies like Russia and Kazakhstan.
According to the experts, recent global migration flow growth has resulted in governments quickly putting in place programs such as “organized recruitment” and “quota schemes”, which are poor value for money and result in poor outcomes for most governments if not well designed.
“Organized recruitment, if designed and implemented well, can go a long way in reducing illegal migration and human trafficking, as we have been able to witness in the Philippines,” said Tomas Achacoso, former Undersecretary for Labor in the Philippines, in his presentation on good practice lessons.
To better inform legislation and migration programs, the experts agreed on a strategy and action plan to strengthen the platform to improve measurement of statistics on migration and data exchange among the CIS countries.
“Although the economies in the CIS region are slowly recovering after the global financial crisis in 2011, many of them are still unable to create new jobs for those who found themselves unemployed during the crisis,” said Sudharshan Canagarajah, head of the World Bank’s CIS Migration Program and Coordinator of the MIRPAL network. “As a result, the challenging economic and political transition in many countries of the CIS in the post crisis period is pushing individuals and families to migrate, making migration management more challenging for governments and border control agencies.”
A slow economic and employment recovery in the CIS region, and especially in migration host countries like Russia, has not helped lay-offs, late-wage payments, industry declines, and cancellation of construction and other projects that came with the onset of the global crisis and continues to affect countries across the CIS.
Since early 2009, the World Bank has been engaged with all nine MIRPAL countries in bringing the issues of migration and remittances to the front of the policy dialogue. However, Irina Davtyan, Deputy Head of State Migration Service of Armenia, said that “MIRPAL needs to be used more effectively by the World Bank and other agencies to bring about much needed reforms in migration.”
Summing up the challenges ahead for MIRPAL, Igor Artamonov, Head of External Relations, Federal Migration Service (FMS) of the Russian Federation, emphasized that, “CIS countries will need to focus on implementing a coordinated migration policy over the coming years that protects migrants’ rights, developing efficient migration support services in both sending and receiving countries, and crafting a sustainable approach to managing emerging migration challenges in the region. Only with this approach can migration become a ‘win-win’ strategy for both labor sending and receiving countries.”