On the road towards comprehensive migration management in the Silk Routes Region

Starting with the first Regional Training on Migration Policy Development and Migration Data Management held in Turkey in the beginning of September 2014, a sequence of workshops, trainings and meetings within the framework of the project Support to the Silk Routes Partnership were carried out in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkey throughout the second half of 2014.

Following the regional training, with the aim to apply the training concept to national needs, national workshops for Pakistani and Iraqi authorities took place in October and December 2014 respectively. The workshops on migration policy development focused on supporting national authorities to define and agree on policy needs and priorities with the aim of elaborating a developmental plan for a comprehensive migration policy.

The workshops on migration data management aimed to highlight current national practices and existing data sources already in place and harmonise these structures to form a joint methodology on data management and sharing.

Expert visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan took place in September and October 2014. The visit to Pakistan was one of a series with the aim to develop a comprehensive training curriculum on various migration topics for the Academy of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as part of efforts to institutionalise training in the area of migration in this country. The visit to Kabul aimed at coordinating with the respective national and international partners in Afghanistan on upcoming project activities as well as to gather further information on existing policy, data management and capacity building structures in the migration field. As in 2013, the visit provided the Afghan authorities working in the area of migration for the second time the opportunity to come together in an inter-agency coordination meeting. The national workshops on migration policy development and data management for Afghan officials will be organised in Kabul in the first quarter of 2015.

On 11 – 12 November 2014, the Silk Routes Working Group met – literally on the ancient Silk Road in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Over 20 countries and several international organisations gathered to discuss the first priority area of the Silk Routes Partnership Ministerial Declaration namely Migration and Mobility, more specifically labour migration and protection of migrant workers. Stressing the importance of migrants’ rights and the need for strong cooperation between all actors involved, realistic labour market assessments, targeted skills development programmes to which both sending and receiving countries contribute to and the crucial link of policies for labour migration with internal employment policies were highlighted as important among other issues.

Linked to this priority area, the second regional training was conducted in cooperation with the Economic Cooperation Organization in Tehran, Iran in late November 2014. The training gathered thirty officials from five Silk Routes countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan) as well as two Central Asian countries (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) to discuss the topics of legal and labour migration as well as integration of migrants. This is the first project activity with such a broad regional participation, leading the way towards increased inter-regional dialogue and cooperation in the area of migration. The regional training showed that while labour migration is a priority area for the Silk Routes countries and there are many ongoing efforts to establish or enhance governance in this area, issues related to legal migration such as entry, stay/residence and exit of foreigners are yet to be developed in a more elaborated manner.

The concluding event of this year’s activity schedule was the 22nd Senior Officials Meeting of the Budapest Process, held in Istanbul on 16 December 2014. The purpose of the Senior Officials meeting was to monitor activities carried out under the Budapest Process and to provide strategic guidance for the future. Following a review of the activities carried out in 2014, the Budapest Group of Senior Officials also agreed on an optimised working group structure of the process in order to implement the Silk Routes Partnership for The Senior Officials also agreed on the activity calendar for 2015.