Seasonal workers in Kyrgyzstan look to Europe

The Russian Federation is now the leader in the number of migrants coming from Central Asian countries. However, according to the Kyrgyz Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Migration, the number of Kyrgyz working in Russia has decreased by 30% over the past year.

According to the Ministry of Labor, for nine months of 2023, the number of Kyrgyz migrants in the Russian Federation decreased by 180,000 people. The tightening of Russia’s migration policy, the weakening of the ruble, and the war in Ukraine are to blame. In addition, according to the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic, remittances from Russia to Kyrgyzstan decreased by almost one billion dollars (35%) during the reporting period. Remittances from the Russian Federation account for almost one third of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP.

Today, many migrants who previously worked in Moscow and other major Russian cities for decades have begun to consider new countries for work. In Bishkek, one can see many advertisements for construction workers in Bulgaria or plantations in the United Kingdom.
The increase in the flow of migrants from Central Asia in London is explained by an increase in quotas for seasonal workers, as well as a decrease in the number of workers from Ukraine. Where men between 18 and 60 are banned from leaving the country due to mobilization. Before the war, most seasonal workers in the UK came from that country.

In 2023, the number of work quotas for Kyrgyz people increased from 1,500 to 2,000 people, the Kyrgyz Ministry of Labor said. It also said Kyrgyz authorities support migration both westward and eastward.

“Previously, our citizens worked legally in only two or three countries around the world. But at the moment the geography for official employment is expanding every year. Fifteen destinations are already available – people have a choice. This includes employment in the Persian Gulf countries, the UK, Germany, Japan and Hungary,” Almaz Alybayev, director of the Center for Employment of Citizens Abroad under the Ministry of Labour, Social Development and Migration, told Kyrgyz media.

The Kyrgyz government believes that Kyrgyz people will return from the UK and other countries with the capital and experience to start their own businesses, which will contribute to the growth of the state’s economy and the welfare of its citizens.

The example of Kyrgyz migrants working in South Korea is noteworthy. There, Kyrgyz migrants worked at factories producing doors and plastic windows. As a result, Korean technologies in this area are now actively used in Kyrgyzstan. The same can be said about innovations in agriculture, which are used by farmers in Great Britain. Kyrgyzstan is in many ways an agrarian country, which means that the experience of such migrants will be useful to the country.


Times of Central Asia

Askar Alimzhanov graduated from the journalism department of the Kazakh State University named after S. Kirov, then worked as a correspondent for the daily republican newspaper Leninskaya Smen. He then moved to the United States to be a reporter for the daily newspaper "Cape Cod Times" in Hayanis, Massachusetts, (USA) under the journalist exchange program between the Union of Journalists of the USSR and the New England Society of News Editors. Since then, he has helped build transparency and understanding of Central Asia region in various executive level positions at esteemed media organizations including "Akbar"(Alma-Ata) international center for journalism, the Khabar News agency, the Television and Radio Corporation "Kazakhstan" JSC, and MIR- Kazakhstan.

View more articles fromTimes of Central Asia