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Tajik Army Runs Short of Men

By Tojinisso Faizullobekova












Military recruitment officers in eastern Tajikistan say there are so few young men left that for the first time ever, they may not meet their annual conscription quota.

As the spring call-up gets under way in Badakhshan and in the rest of the country, experts say one reason for the shortage of conscription-age men is that hundreds of thousands of Tajikistan nationals are working abroad in Russia and other countries.

The average age of labour migrants is falling, so that young men now set off abroad straight after school, with a poor knowledge of Russian and no real awareness of their rights and entitlements. Many will never have travelled outside their own area before.

“The low standard of living in mountain areas is the basic problem,” Diyor Mamadbekov, a local police investigator, said. “Once they leave secondary school, these lads are forced to go off to Russia as labour migrants.”

Others were deterred by stories of routine bullying in the Tajik military, he said, insisting that this kind of abuse had now been rooted out.

The shortage of young men aged around 20 can also be explained by a demographic gap caused by low birth rates during the 1992-97 civil war.

The audio programme, in Tajik and Russian, went out on national radio stations in Tajikistan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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