Libmonster ID: TJ-467
Author(s) of the publication: L. NIKOLAEVA

L. NIKOLAEVA (Dushanbe), Doctor of Philosophy

Population migration is a social process that affects the foundations of human existence. It is associated not only with a change in a person's place of residence, but also with a change in their social status. Migrants often do not realize this fact, do not have an idea of the laws, customs, and traditions of the host country. The problem of migration remains relevant for all countries, including independent Tajikistan.

The situation on the Tajik-Afghan border remains difficult, despite some aspects of its normalization. At present, the unauthorized crossing of the border by citizens of Afghanistan to the territory of Tajikistan continues. The problem of migration emerged in the Republic of Tajikistan (RT) in 1992, when state power collapsed and its social institutions collapsed as a result of the civil war. The former Soviet state structures practically ceased to exist, and the Tajik-Afghan border was opened, which led to mass border crossings in both directions. At this time, a significant number of foreign citizens appeared in Tajikistan, who arrived in the country on their own. If in 1992, during the civil war, there was a migration of the population from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and the number of refugees from Tajikistan was estimated in the hundreds of thousands, then in the last five years the situation has changed.

In the post-war years, the state structures of Tajikistan, with the assistance of international organizations, did a lot of work on the return of Tajik refugees to their places of permanent residence and their adaptation in the republic. The activities of the "Commission for the Return of Tajik refugees to their homeland" at the end of the XX century actually repeated the activities of the "Central Commission of the Revolutionary Committee of the TASSR for assistance to re-emigrants, political emigrants and self-organized Basmachi", created on September 22, 1925.1 Its main task was to re-emigrate the population from Afghanistan to Kurgan-Tyubinsky, Kulyab, Garm, Hissar and Lokai viloyats of the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. The situation with migration of the population of Tajikistan to Afghanistan in the XX century mirrored the events of the 20s of the last century.

Currently, unauthorized movement of Tajik citizens to neighboring territories is insignificant. At the same time, the direction of migration flows of the population of Tajikistan has changed - from the southern and central regions through the north of the republic, most of the population moves to the territory of the Russian Federation, as well as to the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The main reason for external migration of the population of Tajikistan is economic, and it itself takes the form of labor migration. According to the statistical handbook "15 years of Independence of Tajikistan", in 2005 the number of migrants from Tajikistan, mainly to Russia, was 452.3 thousand people2. The activity of Tajik labor migrants in Russia is a source of livelihood for many Tajik families and significantly contributes to the republic's budget.

For other reasons and in a different form, migration of the population from Afghanistan is carried out. Since 1996, when the military conflict in Afghanistan escalated, the situation in its northern provinces worsened, and the flow of Afghan migrants to the Republic of Tajikistan has noticeably increased. A sharp surge in migration from Afghanistan has been observed since 1997. For example, as of January 1, 1998, the State Migration Service of the Republic of Tajikistan registered more than 4,500 citizens of Afghanistan and Pakistan who applied for refugee status.

The operation conducted by the international anti-terrorist coalition in 2001 did not lead to normalization of the situation in Afghanistan. A certain decline in military activity was observed in the first years after the overthrow of the Taliban regime, but now there is an increase in the armed activity of the Taliban movement, and the effectiveness of the international operation itself can be questioned: it did not bring peace to Afghan society.

Over the past five years, the migration of Afghans to Tajikistan has not stopped, which is an indicator of political, economic and social instability in Afghanistan. The main reasons for migration of Afghans are fear for their lives and their loved ones, existence on the verge of poverty, and uncertainty about the future. Migration of the population from Afghanistan has no explicit political or religious motives, which distinguishes its new wave from the period of the 90s. By its nature, the migration of Afghans is forced. Moreover, most of the migrating citizens of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan are determined to leave the country permanently and leave the Central Asian region. A survey conducted among Afghan migrants in the Republic of Tajikistan under the NGO Migration program shows that almost 95% of Afghans do not want to return to their homeland.

The influence of Afghan migration on the socio-political situation in the Republic of Tajikistan is obvious. These issues have been repeatedly discussed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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Currently, a significant part of Afghan migrants, regardless of their motives for migration, work in Tajikistan in the field of private trade, teachers, doctors, and civil servants. Some of them consider Tajikistan to be the country they have chosen for permanent residence. However, most consider it as a transit point on the way to countries such as the Netherlands, Great Britain, Canada, the USA, and Germany. These countries are the most attractive for migrants from Afghanistan. At the same time, the Russian Federation becomes an intermediate point on the way of their movement. Given that Tajikistan and Russia have visa-free entry to each other's territories, Afghan illegal migrants use fictitious marriages, family ties with their compatriots in Russia to enter its territory. The social cross-section of Afghan migration shows the following picture. As a rule, these are men under the age of 40, without a family, sometimes with children, by nationality-Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, Pashtuns. These are mainly residents of the northern provinces of Takhar, Kunduz, Badakhshan, and Samangan.

The development of the political process in Afghanistan over the past five years suggests that the number of people who want to emigrate from the country will increase. The number of Afghan migrants currently living in the Republic of Tajikistan ranges from 5.6 thousand people (CSI RT) to 11.6 thousand people (Khorasan Foundation). The Tajik Interior Ministry does not provide any information about Afghan migrants. According to the Imam Khomeini Committee, which provides humanitarian assistance to Afghan migrants, their number reaches 21-23 thousand people. An increase in the Afghan diaspora will exacerbate the complex of problems associated with migration processes in the Republic of Tajikistan. The Afghan diaspora in Tajikistan is a close-knit community that is well organized and structured. The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tatarstan has registered a public organization of Afghan migrants "Khorasan"here.

The majority of Afghan migrants are representatives of an ethnic group close to the Tajiks in terms of historical ties, language, religion, and customs. A significant part of migrants are Tajiks, who make up a significant part of Afghan society. At the same time, Afghans, even of Tajik origin, differ from Tajik citizens in their specific social psychology, subculture, and social needs. Afghan migrants form a special social group that is to some extent opposed to the interests of Tajik society. Since they do not take an active part in the political and social life of society, they are alienated among the socially active part of the population.

The Afghan diaspora in Tajikistan creates competition in the local labor market, especially in private trade, a niche traditionally occupied by Tajiks and Uzbeks. According to official data, Tajikistan has an unemployment rate of 11%, and latent unemployment is much higher. Since the level of income of the population is extremely low - in industry (in terms of US dollars) - no more than 100 per month, in science and education - from 30 to 70%, the presence of energetic and enterprising Afghans creates intense competition in this field of activity. It should also be noted that many Afghan migrants are also involved in criminal activities, including drug trafficking related to the transfer of drugs to other CIS countries and European states.

Illegal migrants from Afghanistan, who make up a significant percentage of the Afghan diaspora, pose a particular problem. Due to the fact that there is no clear monitoring of migrants in Tajikistan, control over their stay on the territory of the republic is poorly organized, they can be a destabilizing factor in the country. There are several ways of illegal migration of Afghan citizens to the territory of Tajikistan: illegal crossing of the Tajik-Afghan border, arrival for a short time in Tajikistan officially by private and business invitations via Karachi or Mashhad. After the end of their stay in Tajikistan, they "dissolve" among the Afghan diaspora, joining the ranks of illegal migrants. Less often, Afghan migrants use other CIS countries to move to Tajikistan.

Currently, there is another way of illegal migration of Afghan citizens. There is an agreement on cross-border trade between the Republic of Tajikistan and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, there are several border crossing points, and with the assistance of international sponsors, several bridges have been built across the Panj River connecting the two countries. As a result, citizens of Afghanistan, mostly traders, freely move to the territory of Tajikistan and have the right to short-term stay in the republic. Using family ties in Tajikistan, Afghan citizens often stay here for several months without a visa. They ship building materials, food, and household appliances to Afghanistan. It is rather difficult to trace the further path of Afghans in the territory of the Republic of Tatarstan. There are many trails in the mountainous region that are known only to local residents.

The problem of uncontrolled migration of Afghan citizens to the territory of the CIS countries poses a threat to the security of the CIS countries in the Central Asian region. First, the organization of health care in Afghanistan, especially preventive work and health education among the population, are at an extremely low level. Many Afghan migrants are a source of infectious diseases. They can cause epidemics of malaria, scabies, typhoid, and cholera in their host countries. Recently, patients with these seemingly forgotten diseases have appeared in Tajikistan.

Secondly, the newly emerged countries of the Central Asian region are young states that are forming their own state structures and political systems. In them still tolya-

page 24


there is also a choice of priority development paths. The presence of a significant Afghan diaspora, whose core interests do not always coincide with the national interests of Tajik society, can negatively affect this process.

Third, radical Islamic parties such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan operate in these countries. Their activities are legally prohibited in Central Asian countries. It is carried out clandestinely and is transnational in nature. This creates a real opportunity for cooperation between radical Islamic movements in Central Asian countries and similar movements in Afghanistan.

Here are some facts of a criminal nature. In March 2006, members of a criminal group consisting of 17 citizens of Afghanistan and 2 Tajik citizens were sentenced in Khatlon. The criminals were charged with murder, hostage-taking, illegal crossing of the state border, illegal possession, carrying and smuggling of weapons, drug trafficking on a particularly large scale. Gang leader Mahmad Yusuf Walidi Nazrikul, better known as Shali Amin, was sentenced to 20 years in prison4.

In February 2007, the Hamadoni District Prosecutor's Office opened a criminal investigation into the hostage-taking of two Tajik citizens by an armed group of Afghans. The seizure took place in January, but due to the remoteness of the village, the criminal case was initiated much later.5

In December 2006, Tajik citizens taken hostage in Afghanistan were returned to their homeland. Residents of the Shurobad district were captured by an Afghan smuggler, Ashurbay Sultanmamad.6

In February 2007, the information "Bunker with a secret" was published in the press. In it, with reference to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tatarstan, it was reported that on January 29 of this year, a bunker with clothes, food, weapons was found on the territory of the Isfara district, and a so - called "grenade tripwire"was found at the entrance. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan, the bunker belonged to the extremist organization "Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan". Similar bunkers equipped for residential buildings were discovered on the territory of the Isfara district in the fall of last year. Presumably, the weapons came from Afghanistan 7.

Similar reports appear in the republican press on a weekly basis. It is known that some citizens from the CIS countries of the Central Asian region took and probably continue to take part in the activities of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The presence of Afghan illegal migrants may lead to the radicalization of Islam in the CIS countries of Central Asia. According to the Department of Internal Affairs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan, in August 1998, four Pashtuns, citizens of Pakistan, who illegally arrived in Tajikistan and propagated radical Islam, were detained by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in a mosque in Dushanbe. They stayed on the territory of the republic for several months and only after being detained were they expelled from the country.

Currently, the CIS countries in Central Asia, according to the current constitutions, are secular democratic states. At the same time, Islam has played and continues to play an important role in the life of the local population. There is a search for new forms of Islam, a new attitude of the state towards Islam is being developed. These processes are still in the initial stage. In this regard, the interference of foreign citizens in these processes can lead to destabilization of the situation in these countries.

In addition, drug production is not decreasing in Afghanistan, and the established routes for their transportation through Central Asian countries continue to operate. Criminal structures of the CIS countries are involved in the transportation and sale of drugs. The presence of Afghan illegal migrants can lead to an expansion of their activities, to the growing criminalization of society.

In March 2006, military personnel of the State Committee for State Border Protection, together with employees of the Department for Combating Drug Trafficking of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan, stopped an attempt to transfer drugs from Afghanistan to Tajikistan. The incident occurred near the village of Kyzyl-Su in Farkhor district. Amonullo Valadi Rahmatullo, a citizen of Afghanistan, was detained while attempting to illegally cross the state border. During a personal search, 4 bags of heroin and 8 cannabis were seized from the detainee.

In December, Dushanbe summed up the results of the fight against the Afghan-Tajik drug mafia in 2006.In the first eleven months of last year, more than 3,200 kg of narcotic substances were seized from illicit traffic, of which more than 1,360 kg was heroin. These indicators are significantly lower than the Russian "green caps" once demonstrated, but they are also quite high9.

The problem of illegal migration of the Afghan population to Tajikistan cannot be solved by the efforts and good will of only one of the CIS countries. It is necessary to seek collective solutions to this problem, coordinate the policy of each of the CIS member states with regard to illegal migrants, not only from Afghanistan, but also from the CIS countries, unify the relevant legislation, radically change the work of migration services, and most importantly, this requires effective protection of the Tajik-Afghan border, normalization of the situation in the country itself. Afghanistan.


1 Central State Archive of the Republic of Tajikistan. F. R-9, op. 3, ed. hr. 66.

2 15 years of independence of Tajikistan. Statistical collection. Dushanbe, 2006, p. 67.

3 Ibid., pp. 38-39.

4 Asia-Plus, 23.03.06.

5 Ibid., 01.02.07.

6 Ibid, 28.12.06.

7 Ibid., 01.02.07.

8 Ibid., 18.03.06.

9 Ibid., 01.02.07.


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