Migration Profile of the Republic of Moldova

Since proclaiming its independence on 27 August 1991, the Republic of Moldova has gone through several migratory periods distinguishable along dynamics such as push and pull factors, level of prevalence of migration, direction and composition of migratory flows, and duration and legal status of migrants’ stay in host countries.

At this stage, Moldova is primarily a country of origin of migration, and to a much lesser extent a country of destination or transit for migrants. Regarding the latter, data shows that only an insignificant number of irregular migrants to the EU use Moldova as transit country. The migration situation is predominantly characterized by emigration of Moldovan citizens, while immigration of non-citizens or foreign-born persons can be described as insignificant from a statistical point of view.

Hence, Moldova is a source country of migrants. Around the year 2000, outward migration progressively increased to significant proportions compared to the population.

Various official and independent sources provide data on Moldova’s migration trends.

According to the Border Police data, on 31 December 2015, the amount of Moldovans currently residing abroad was approximately 753,800, roughly 20,000 of whom were absent for a period of 12 months and beyond. According to the NEXUS study carried out in 2013 “Survey of households: Country’s Migration Profile (2013)”, 411,566 persons were abroad, out of which 30% come from the urban areas and 70% from the rural areas.

Temporary labour migration remains the most widespread form of emigration from Moldova. Therefore, the data of the Labor Force Survey, carried out annually by the National Bureau for Statistics, reveal an increase from 138,000 in 2000 to 341,900 in 2014 of migrant workers, including the persons aged 15 years old and over, who have left abroad to work or to look for a job at the moment when the survey was conducted.  

Since the late 1990s, migration from Moldova has been directed towards two regions: The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, predominantly Russia (more than 55% of Moldovan migrants in 2014), as well as Western Europe, particularly Italy (more than 15% of Moldovan migrants in 2014).

The main push factor for Moldovan migrants is economic: poverty, lack of adequate employment opportunities and low salaries, while higher living standards abroad act as a pull factor. From a national migration policy and governance point of view, both immigration and emigration benefit from strong attention in terms of the country’s EU approximation objectives and the amplitude of current and future impact on development in all sectors, respectively.

Managing Moldova's migration flows, much of which are not regular, is a major challenge for the Moldovan Government and its partners in the international community, including IOM. The country has experienced problems with trafficking in human beings. It is impossible to give an accurate total number as many cases go unreported to law enforcements and/or social welfare institutions. The full scale of trafficking from/in Moldova remains unknown as many victims are not identified in the destination countries or in Moldova due to changing trends in trafficking, fear of stigmatization, low level of self-identification, limited knowledge of human rights/trafficking issues, as well as the inability or unwillingness of some victims to report their trafficking experiences to the authorities. However, one indication of the extent of the trafficking phenomenon in Moldova is the total number of those assisted as victims of trafficking by IOM Chisinau. From 2000 to 2013, this number is 3,194 persons.

The above mentioned trends pose a number of different but clearly linked challenges to a modern and efficient management of migration.

During the past years, an increasing awareness of migration as a phenomenon both liable to produce positive development outcomes for the country and negative social costs and the concomitant commitment to a proactive management of migration challenges and opportunities, led to intensive legislative and policymaking activities of the Moldovan Government. IOM supported the adoption and implementation of an array of conceptual documents and laws determining migration policy in the key areas of migration management and practices over the mid to long-term outlook, mostly in line with the international standards and, given the European integration aspirations context.

The Moldovan Government has recognized the need for a coordinated and integrated approach to manage migration through for instance the National Development Strategy 2012–2020, which includes a focus on harnessing remittances and youth emigration, as well as the National Strategy on Migration and Asylum 2011–2020. The latter aims at developing inter-sectorial policies in the areas of legal migration, asylum system, illegal migration, integrated border management, visa policy, observance of human rights and freedoms, etc., and acknowledges the need to correlate the migration management with the economic, political, and social policies. 

Yet the high prevalence of migration and its ramified impacts on Moldova condition the need to assess sectorial inter-linkages with migration and to factor them at all levels of the country’s development policy cycle.