Economic Downturn Hits Migrant Workers' Families

Although many Kyrgyz labour migrants are hanging on in hope of better times in Russia, their families back home are finding that the money they send home is drying up.

Economic Downturn Hits Migrant Workers' Families

Although many Kyrgyz labour migrants are hanging on in hope of better times in Russia, their families back home are finding that the money they send home is drying up.

Wednesday, 11 March, 2009
For many households, relatives working abroad have provided a vital lifeline of financial support in recent years, given the poor economic situation in Kyrgyzstan compounded by erratic supplies of gas and electricity.



As reporter Janar Akaev discovered, many are now reporting a sudden drop in income as the migrants stop transferring money. Some of these workers have been sacked, while others have had their pay stopped because Russian firms are so strapped for cash in the ongoing financial crisis.



“My children working in Russia haven’t had money for seven or eight months now,” said Aranbay-Ata, a 63-year-old man from the outskirts of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan with three sons and two daughter away in Russia. “They say, ‘Dad, we have had any pay or eight months because of the crisis. The Russians are giving us a hard time.’”



He recalled, “They always sent money every month or fortnight. At worst, the wife and I always had 100 dollars in hand. Now we don’t even have the money to travel into the city.”



Experts say money transfers by labour migrants have halved in recent months. The banks in Kyrgyzstan offer clear evidence that this is the case there used to be long queues of people waiting to collect their money, now there is almost no one. One woman at the bank told IWPR her son was now sending her 100 dollars at a time when he would have sent 400 or 500 before.

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