Children of migrants
Children of labour migrants who are left behind with relatives or put into institutions are extremely vulnerable to abuse and violence
With growing poverty driving internal and external labour migration, the number of children left behind has also increased. An estimated 800,000 to 1,000,000 Tajik citizens (up to 20% of the labour force) have migrated out of the country.
58% of female migrant workers from Central Asia have left children below the age of 16 in their home countries.
Of every 100,000 children in the country, an estimated 160 children lose parental care each year. In many cases this is because of migration. As parents migrate, children are often left with relatives, and in many cases with grandparents who may struggle to meet the needs of the growing children, many of whom are placed in residential institutions.
Children left behind and affected by migration face many challenges accessing basic services, such as health and education. While migrants’ households enjoy more income through money coming in from abroad, the absence of parents forces children to do heavy work that deprives them of free time and even contributes to absenteeism in school. Between 40% and 62% of remittances are spent on health-related costs. However, 65% of abandoned families have great difficulties in accessing health care services.
“Many children are often pushed to the margins of society, face difficulties accessing services, and are vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and abuse as a consequence of migration.” Luciano Calestini, UNICEF Represenatative in Tajikistan
Research indicates, that 78% of families affected by migration do not have adequate income to cover the costs of living, with the need for food being the most unmet need for 93% of them. Children affected by migration often find themselves marginalized, without proper psychosocial support or lacking access to quality services. 85% of children are upset when their parent leaves for migration, and 27.7% of children feel hopeless.
UNICEF is uniquely placed to advance a non-discriminatory child rights approach based upon the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ensuring that the principles of non-discrimination and putting the best interests of the children at the core of programming. Children left behind from migrant families are a key priority group.
UNICEF is working to strengthen the national systems to identify children affected by migration and to enhance their access to protection and other social services.
We work with government partners to ensure that abandoned families receive assistance, particularly from the Department of Social Protection, which manages the Targeted Social Assistance Scheme.
The Government of Tajikistan successfully submitted its third to fifth periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in September 2017. On its recommendations, given the significant number of children under five in the State party without birth certificates, the Committee, reminding Tajikistan of Sustainable Development Goal target 16.9 on providing legal identity for all, and strongly urged the country to continue facilitating access to the birth registration process by expanding the use of mobile civil registration units, speeding up processing times, removing all additional costs, simplifying the supporting documentation requirements and encouraging the reporting of at-home births.
UNICEF, together with its partners, is working to provide support to address statelessness.
As part of a regional effort funded by the European Union, it is currently working to strengthen the capacity of Government institutions and non-governmental actors to ensure that the rights of children affected by migration are upheld.