GHISHTKUPRIK, Uzbekistan -- Thousands of Uzbeks have been stuck along the Uzbek-Kazakh border since February 17 as border guards introduced new regulations for labor migrants heading to Kazakhstan.
An official at the Ghishtkuprik checkpoint told RFE/RL on February 19 that Uzbek labor migrants could now cross the border only if they had a work permit in their destination country and a work agreement with a company there.
An official at the Uzbek Interior Ministry told RFE/RL that the new regulations had been introduced to prevent human trafficking.
Hundreds of thousands of Uzbek labor migrants travel to Kazakhstan and Russia each year for seasonal work.
At a cabinet session last month, Uzbekistan's authoritarian President Islam Karimov harshly criticized his interior minister for "his failure to provide Uzbek youths with jobs, which turns them into labor migrants abroad."