The problem of labor migrants’ children is perhaps one of the most relevant topics in Kyrgyzstan at the present time. According to official data, from 650 thousand to 750 thousand citizens of Kyrgyzstan work abroad.
Although labor migration improves the economic well-being of families, it has negative consequences for the migrants themselves and for the members of their families who remain at home. Children affected by migration are very often left out of society, have no access to services or face barriers to accessing basic services.
In 2018-2019, UNICEF project on conducting “Gap Analysis in Access to Basic Services and Birth Certificates for Children and Their Families Affected by Migration in Kyrgyzstan” was implemented by Research and Development Department of CAIConsulting.
The main goal of the study was to conduct a qualitative collection of data on the access of affected by migration children to basic services in Kyrgyzstan. The study was based on data from desk research, in-depth interviews with migrants’ children, guardians, and focus group discussions with stakeholders.
This study revealed a tendency that children left behind by their parents in families with relatives are sometimes used as additional labor force - as compensation for the fact that they live in their families, which does not always correspond to their age, often deprive them of free time, which children would like to spend on games, which is typical for a child's age.
The study revealed many facts of children's lack of access to basic services and birth certificates for children. Unfortunately, not all guardians officially register their guardianship, referring to the long process of obtaining guardianship, or the parents were unable to complete the documents in time and left. Corruption in the field of social protection was also named among the reasons.
Representatives of government services and the community believe that guardians have problems registering at the place of residence, because there are no official documents on guardianship, or they are afraid of unnecessary costs associated with this, or they do not register because the child is with them temporarily. Representatives of the Population Service Centre, in addition to the entire above, claim that sometimes children are not registered due to the fact that they have the citizenship of the Russian Federation.
According to representatives of state services, formalization of guardianship provides a number of significant advantages: increased responsibility and the status of the guardian; there is an opportunity to receive benefits; representatives of state services will have accurate information on the number of children left in the care of relatives; the work of social services will be simplified and facilitated.
Based on the results of this study, a group of experts from CAIConsulting developed general recommendations for the Ministry of Labor and Social Development of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic, the United Nations Children's Fund in the Kyrgyz Republic, to provide effective protection for children affected by migration and promote their rights. Also, the results of this analysis will serve as information for further programs to improve access to services for children affected by migration.