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International Group Helps Repatriate Hundreds Of Tajik Citizens Stranded In Kazakhstan

The Zhibek Zholy checkpoint on the Kazakh-Uzbek border. (file photo)
The Zhibek Zholy checkpoint on the Kazakh-Uzbek border. (file photo)

DUSHANBE -- An international governmental group has organized transportation to repatriate hundreds of Tajik citizens stranded in Kazakhstan for weeks because of restrictions implemented to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), an intergovernmental organization that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, told RFE/RL that 635 Tajik citizens aboard 14 buses left the Zhibek Zholy (Silk Road) checkpoint on the Kazakh-Uzbek border on June 19.

According to the IOM, the group of Tajiks includes migrant workers and students, as well as women and children.

The 180-kilometer trip was coordinated with the governments of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The United States and Norway have provided the funding for the service, along with UNICEF, IOM said.

More than 25 percent of the returning Tajik migrants are youth of 15-24 years of age, including 100 Tajik men and women studying at Kazakh universities.

Almost 15 percent of the group are women and girls.

Hundreds of Tajik migrants in Kazakhstan gathered along the Kazakh-Uzbek border in the recent weeks, hoping to find a way to return home amid precautionary measures and quarantine imposed over the pandemic.

Some of the migrants faced difficulties and harsh conditions, namely a lack of water, food, sanitary facilities, and shelters, while waiting at the border.

The IOM, in cooperation with its partner in Kazakhstan, the Sana Sezim (Consciousness) group, provided humanitarian assistance to the migrants in the form of water, food, hygiene kits, and personal protection items.

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