WHERE DO WE STAND?
In Moldova as elsewhere, migration is a highly sensitive and controversial issue, which is often abused in debates. However, some facts and figures are available and open discussions are not only possible, but they are needed in addressing problems caused by migration.In the past years a growing number of Moldovans have left the country in ord er to earn a living abroad. While up to 600 000 Moldovans may reside abroad1, those migrants who still have family in Moldova in 2008 were estimated at 340 000 or roughly one quarter of the national labour force2. One third of Moldovan non-permanent migrants are considered to be in an irregular state abroad. Remittances are a major source of income for the households of those who left and for the national economy in general. In 2008 remittances topped 1.8 billion USD3; compared to the GDP, this amounts to more than 30%. Remittances helped reduce poverty, send children to school and they contributed to a consumption led growth of the economy. Every third Moldovan household receives remittances and for every second among them money sent from abroad accounts for more than 50% of the total income. Negative consequences of migration include a massive brain- and skills-drain, affecting the public and the private sectors, abandoned children, broken families. In some cases failed migration experiences have resulted in severe exploitation abroad – usually referred to as trafficking.Although out-migration and the volume of remittance flows have already slowed down before the crisis, the propensity to migrate remains still high (more than half of the migrants who returned recently intend to leave again)4. Due to the substantial difference between foreign and domestic wages, the motivation to migrate will not slacken. Migrating remains an attractive opportunity and remittances will likely remain for the medium term a mainstay of the Moldovan economy. That is why continued efforts to enhancing the homeland development potential of migrants and offsetting detrimental social consequences of migration remains of decisive importance.
Returning Migrants Migrants face increasingly negative attitudes from governments and societies in countries of destination.
Existing reintegration options and measures are insufficient with regard to a potential massive increase in returns, and the domestic labour market has limited absorption capacity for returning migrants;
The domestic labour market is unfriendly towards; young people trying to enter the labour market for the first time who now face increased competition from experienced and better-skilled return migrants;
Migrants do not participate actively enough with their savings in the economy due to a weak investment environment;
Preventing Out-migration and Social Protection
Young women and single mothers, especially those from rural areas with low education and a history of domestic violence still risk falling victim to trafficking;
The National Referral System (NRS) for victims and potential victims of trafficking in human beings was launched in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders in 2006. It operates in 27 territorial administrative units. From 2000 to 2008 5,185 beneficiaries were assisted by IOM Moldova, including 433 assisted within the NRS.
Parent’s migration reduces the poverty risks for children but has a proven detrimental impact on their academic and moral education. Some children remained poor even if both parents migrated. 20% of Moldovan children have at least one parent abroad and 10% have both parents abroad5. In 14% of families with a migrant mother, nobody takes care of the children. 7% of children in residential institution were children of migrant parents6.
Migrants’ illegal status entails low frequence of their visits back home, thus further endangering the well-being of Moldovan migrant families;
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?
There is a need for developing of a comprehensive migration strategy aimed at maximizing the benefits of migration and reducing its social costs. In this regard the role of the State Migration Management Committee could be decisive.Responding to the economic crisis
Enhancing the in-country income opportunities in the long term and in the immediate future increase infrastructure investments as a basis for public employment programmes;
Expanding legal employment opportunities for Moldovans abroad, notably through circular migration schemes and temporary work programmes especially with EU member states in the framework of the EU-Moldova Mobility Partnership, thereby also counteracting many of the social concerns and economic inequities caused by irregular migration.
Avoiding the cutting of targeted social assistance programmes;
Expanding the NRS both geographically and thematically to include a wider range of vulnerable groups;
Ensuring the quality of assistance and sustainability of social assistance efforts through the development of quality standards and the gradual increase of Government ownership. Strengthening social services to better respond to the needs of families affected by migration;
Developing mechanisms and capacities of actors in the social field to detect and assist children lacking parental care. Support families caring for children of migrants, especially grandparents and other caregivers. Assist children of returning migrants in the reintegration process.
Expanding the quality and accessibility of socio-economic reintegration services for returning migrants and multiplying offers of professional (re-) qualification, vocational training, employment counseling and grants for small business start-ups;
Creating incentives for the return of highly-skilled migrants, develop retraining programmes for health and education professionals contributing to their reintegration and implement professional placement programmes for Moldovan students graduating from overseas universities based on the Governmental Plan of Action on Fostering Return of Moldovan Migrants from Abroad (Oct. 2008).
Migratory processes and Diaspora management
Providing information and support services to migrants throughout the migration process, thereby also strengthening migrant’s emotional attachment to Moldova;
Establishing more formal links between the Moldovan society and the Diaspora and assisting migrants under pressure in host countries through enhanced consular services;
Promoting the investment of remittances in Moldova in line with the Small and Medium Enterprises State Programme adopted by the Government in February 2009 and charitable donations for home village development projects;
Actively seeking for ways to harmonize tax and social insurance systems between host countries and Moldova.
1 According to CEC, citing Border Guards Service figure, as many as 628,000 Moldovans resided abroad in March 2009. See http://www.azi.md/ro/story/1664
2 National Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force Survey (Biroul National de Statistica, Forta de munca in Republica moldova: ocuparea si somajul in trimestrul IV 2008); number confirmed by IOM Migration and Remittances Survey 2008 See http://iom.md/materials/studies_reports/2009_05_05_remmit_boom_over_eng.pdf .
3 National Bank of Moldova, 2009 (Banca Naţională a Moldovei, 2009);
5 National Bureau of Statistics, UNICEF Child poverty profile, 2008 (Biroul National de Statistica, UNICEF Sărăcia copiilor, 2008);
6 The Impact Of Migration On Children in Moldova, UNICEF-UNDP 2008 (UNICEF-PNUD, Impactul migraţiei asupra comunităţii, familiilor si copiilor, 2008);