Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Tajikistan Comes to Terms With Immigrant Labour

Although it is a country where hundreds of thousands of people go abroad in search of work, Tajikistan is also host to several thousand foreign worker.
As reporter Sohiba Olimpour discovered, most of the temporary immigrants are Chinese, working for companies that prefer to bring in their own people rather than hire Tajiks, for reasons of language and terms and conditions.

Tajikistan sets a quota for migrant workers from abroad, with China awarded the highest at 2,500 in view of Beijing’s increasing economic presence here. Many more are believed to be working illegally, outside the quota who are issued with the proper documents.

Although China has a common border with Tajikistan, there was little contact until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when hermetically sealed frontiers began to open up. Unfamiliarity can lead to culture clashes between Tajiks and the Chinese incomers.

The Chinese, like other foreign workers, are often subjected to document inspections, which police say are necessary to keep immigration in check.

However, migration expert Abduvahob Abdusattor says migrant workers get far better treatment in Tajikistan than in some other post-Soviet states like Russia.

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