Thousands of Central Asians migrate to Russia, particularly Moscow, and make up a large portion of Moscow’s labor force. They are a key factor to Russia’s economy, and yet they face discrimination and violence within the Russian borders. Many are faced with tough working and living conditions, and are extremely under-appreciated. The Human Rights Watch released a report last month detailing the violations made against the Central Asian workers that had been preparing for the Winter Olympics, which will be located in Sochi, Russia. These workers are receiving little pay while living in cramped, uncomfortable areas. Tens of thousands of the workers are Central Asian migrants, and they clearly do not receive the same working rights that nationals receive.
A discussion between Russian NGOs and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) revealed some unflattering statistics. In regards to the number of far-right attacks in Russia in the past year, 568 Central Asian workers were beaten or attacked, while 220 more were killed. This was due to the socio-political Russian climate, and the fact that many migrants were from former Soviet republics. Despite this treatment, poverty and political instability drive migrants to continue going to Russia in search of work.
In light of this major problem, an NGO called Yordam opened in Russia recently, founded by seven people. The word Yordam means “Help” in English. The chairman, Bahrom Hamroyev, said that the word Yordam is understood in all regional countries. Yordam opened in Russia to help migrants. Yordam also offers legal advice to migrants, and explains their rights, as well as their duties. Another focus of this organization is to help workers write contracts with their employers, and to document labor relations. Generally, migrants use verbal agreements, which tends to end badly, since it does not hold up legally. One of the members, Margarita Kim, indicates that the migrants are part of Russia and a part of their society. Overall, Yordam opened in Russia to help all migrant workers, and to help make a more fair, peaceful, and integrated society.
– Corina Balsamo
Sources: UZ News, The Global Observatory