Under Tajik authorities’ order, over the past few years, dozens of families from the Gorno-Badakhshan region, Rasht and Kulob voluntarily moved to the south of the country. However, many migrants are dissatisfied with the new situation and complain about difficult living conditions.
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Under Tajik authorities’ order, over the past few years, dozens of families from the Gorno-Badakhshan region, Rasht and Kulob voluntarily moved to the south of the country. However, many migrants are dissatisfied with the new situation and complain about difficult living conditions.In 2010, Zulfiniso Mirzoeva, 35, moved to Vatan village in Obshoron jamoat of the Shahritus district from the Jirgatol district, where she could not receive land for the house construction. Mirzoeva is pleased with hukumat [local governing body – Ed.] decision to allocate her family more than 100 ares for area of land and to provide financial assistance of 1,500 somoni (approximately $160) for house construction at the new place. Zulfiniso says that during the resettlement, the authorities promised to provide the village with water and electricity. However, for the past nine years, she has been living in a village without electricity. According to Zulfiniso, it is due to the lack of electricity that dozens of migrants returned to their former villages, leaving house constructions unfinished. “Several times we appealed to authorized bodies with complaints. They make promises, but never fulfill them. Living without electricity is very hard. Children cannot do their homework. Neighbors who have left their homes come back sometimes to see them over and leave again. They say they will come back to live here when electricity works”, says Mirzoeva.
Marjona Isoeva, another resident of Vatan village is raising three small children in a house without electricity. She has to use candles and lanterns in the dark. She spends about 30 somoni to buy them every month. Isoeva cooks food on an improvised caldron.“Today, only three families live in our new village. The kids are bored. They want to watch TV. However, we have no electricity. We dream about electricity to watch TV, use air conditioning”, she says. According to the residents, land properties were allocated for 80 families in the new Vatan village. Many of the settlers brought stones and rubble to build houses. Only 15 households were able to complete the construction partially. The migrants left their homes because of the heat, the lack of drinking water and electricity. They claim that they will return if electrical equipment is installed. However, no one knows when this will happen. Amirbek Jumaev, the head of the land committee of the Shahritus district, says that about 100 families have been allocated lands in Vatan village. 53 of them are internal migrants from Jirgatol, Rasht and Kulob regions. Now migrants living in Vatan village say that they cannot bring their children here because of the school remoteness. The nearest school No. 9 is more than three kilometers away and it will be difficult for children to go there because the winters are cold and the rest of the time is very hot. Sayohat Murodova works in the mentioned school. She is also a migrant and lives in Vatan village. Every day, her husband brings her to work, sometimes on bicycle, but often on a cart, with a donkey harnessed. The family is happy with a cart and donkey they own, which help them to move around. They are grateful that the state allocated free land for them and provided financial support for building a house. “We lived in the house of my husband’s uncle in Kulob. They have a very big family. We needed a plot of land. We had to move here, to this village. The school is three kilometers away from my home. Every day, my husband has to carry me to work on the cart. We experience hardships. We have to cook food in a homemade caldron. But our biggest problem is the lack of electricity”, says Murodova. Settlers say that in November 2018, the local hukumat partially installed the electricity poles. Everyone was happy about the long-standing dream finally coming true. However, half a year has passed since then, the works have been stopped for unknown reasons and the residents’ needs have been forgotten.
The head of the electricity department of the Shahritus district, Abdusamad Kurbanov, says that as early as 2009, a government decree on providing electricity to migrants was signed. Under the initiative of the district’s hukumat, 27 poles were built until now:“To continue the work, we appealed to Barqi Tojik Association. As soon as the equipment arrives, we will continue to work and provide electricity to the migrants”, says Kurbanov. According to the migrants’ stories, the local hukumat was providing financial assistance for the new houses’ construction. However, the family must return 50% of the received assistance after 5 years. Sayohat Murodova says she received 1,500 somoni (about $160). In five years, she returned 700 somoni (about $80) to the state. Saimuddin Loikov, one of the responsible representatives of the Shahritus district hukumat, said that many migrants returned to their former places of residence as they received land documents and financial support. He says that in order to provide migrants with drinking water and electricity, the district authorities appealed to the central departments and the conditions of the residents, according to him, will definitely improve. Just like in Shahritus district, families of internal migrants also live in Nosiri Khusrav district. During the preparation of this material, we met Bozorgul Saidova, who, at that time, worked in the ideology department of the Nosiri Khusrav district. According to her, families moved there from the Rasht valley and Kulob group of districts, as well as from the Vakhsh, Qabodiyon, Abdurahmoni Jomi and Jaloliddin Balkhi Districts. Each arrived family received 15 ares of land. Assistance was provided to families in two stages, 3,000 somoni in total (approximately $320). After receiving land documents and financial assistance, most of the migrants did not return to the village. Bozorgul Saidova claims that the migrants were provided with drinking water. Saidova says she does not understand why migrants do not return to new villages. Nazriddin Safolov, a resident of Bahor village in Nosiri Khusrav district, moved here from the Vakhsh district eight years ago. He is confident that many migrants have returned to their previous homes because of the heat. Their only difficulty now is the lack of clean drinking water. “We use water from homemade water pipe. Water has some unpleasant taste. Life in the village is very hard. But despite all the difficulties, we are pleased that the government of Tajikistan has provided us with land”, said Safolov. Emomali Saidzoda, chairperson of the land committee of the Nosiri Khusrav district, says that the resettlement of voluntary migrants is based on the plan of government of Tajikistan. Over the past three years, a total of 67 migrant families have been resettled to this area. Every three years, hukumat of Tajikistan makes a decision on internal relocation. The Specialist at Department of Migration and Employment of Population Mahmadali Sobirzoda says that until 2015, financial assistance of 1,500 somoni (approximately $160) was provided to each family of migrants. Afterwards, they began to receive 3,000 somoni (about $320 dollars). According to Mahmadali Sobirzoda, by the new decree No. 501, which will be implemented in 2019-2021, each family that moves to those areas will receive cash assistance of 5,000 somoni ($530). In five years, the family will have to return 50% of the amount back to the state’s treasury. According to statistics, over the past six years, 112 families have been resettled to the Shahritus district and the Nosiri Khusrav district.
Sobirzoda could not provide an accurate statistics on the number of internal migrants, as until 2016 this topic was not within the competence of his service.He noted that those migrants who were resettled during the last three years did not return. Despite all difficult conditions, they continue to live in the new villages. According to Mahmadali Sobirzoda, migrants mostly complain to the authorities about the lack of drinking water and the lack of electricity. At the same time, he referred to the regulation of the government of Tajikistan, which states that migrants should be provided with electricity, water for drinking and irrigation, and clarifies there should be planned constructions of schools and first-aid posts. Expert Rustami Safar claims that local hukumats do not provide acceptable living conditions for migrants. This becomes the reason for their return to the previous places of living. Migrants live in remote villages where no one is interested in their lives. In addition, the financial aid from the hukumat is not even enough to lay the foundation of the house: “A large amount of money is needed to build a house. 3,000 somoni ($320) is not enough to lay even the foundation. In addition, migrants spend money on the preparation of land documents. No one considers this. Good conditions must be provided for them”, he concludes.
This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.