Alisher (name is changed) is one of the activists of the union of the people with disability in Tajikistan. When he left Tajikistan for a job in the Russian Federation several years ago, he never thought that his life would dramatically change. He worked in the construction like thousands of other Tajiks in Russia. But one day, the elevator he used in at the job fell down and Alisher got a spinal injury…
A project by IOM found that among 356 returned migrants who took part in a survey, 26 per cent mentioned a migration-related health complaint, 10 per cent regarded themselves as having a disability, and 35 per cent said they experienced intense stress and emotions related to their migration experience or return. Out of those experiencing psychosocial distress, 78 per cent expressed interest in speaking to a professional about it. Those having disability and mental health issues stemming from their migration experience bear high costs and face barriers in accessing social and health care services or in seeking compensation for their lost ability to work and live a full life.
IOM Tajikistan launched the project “Returned Tajik migrants: promoting a multi-stakeholder response to mental health and disability issues” to understand the burden of the disability and mental health among Tajik migrants and improve multisectoral response to address occupational safety of the Tajiks abroad and reintegration issues at the home country. Presentation of the project was conducted during event “Implementation Of The National Rehabilitation Program For The Persons With Disabilities 2017-2020”, National Action Plan For Ratification Of The UN Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities 2020-2024 And Its Role In The Strengthening The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities” organized by the Ministry of health and social protection of the Republic of Tajikistan, National Union of the People with Disability, UNDESA and UNDP on 3-4 December 2020.
According to official data, 150,000 people with disabilities are registered in the Republic of Tajikistan. How many of them were injured during labour migration is not documented. At the same time, international studies on migration health raise the issue of "healthy migrants" departing and "exhausted migrants" returning home. How this phenomenon extend among Tajik migrants and how it challenges health care and social system in the home country need to be explored. More evidence is needed to guide the government in addressing non-communicable diseases, particularly disability, mental health and gender-specific needs of returning Tajik migrant workers.
Further, civil society sectoral responses on mental health are limited, and broader responses on disability do not show an awareness of the specific challenges facing returned migrant workers, or how to access to decent work abroad impacts their health. Private sector stakeholders providing access to insurance and health and rehabilitation services are yet unaware of the opportunities to tailor their products and services to the needs of returned migrant workers or consider partnerships in service provision. Greater awareness of the cross-sectoral connections is required to generate a tailored and coordinated response to identified needs.