IOM Accelerates Labour Migration Debate in Afghanistan

Date Published: 
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The lack of an effective overseas migration administration system makes Afghan migrant workers vulnerable to abuse and exploitation at the hands of recruitment agencies and foreign employers, according to IOM.

Migration from Afghanistan is a complex and constantly changing phenomenon. In the past it was almost exclusively refugee flows, whereas now the dynamics are influenced by economic push and pull factors. The bulk of labour migration is to Iran and Pakistan, with thousands of workers crossing those borders every year. There is also increasing movement to the Gulf.

In response to the growing number of Afghans working abroad and the need for effective overseas migration management, IOM hosted a pioneering event in Kabul at the weekend, which brought together government  representatives, labour unions and recruitment agencies to discuss labour migration trends and challenges.

The event: “Recruitment of Afghan Nationals for Overseas Employment” was the first of its kind to be hosted in Kabul and provided a unique opportunity for labour migration stakeholders to meet.

In a mix of presentations and group sessions, participants discussed the current labour migration system in Afghanistan, with a focus on how to better protect migrant workers and optimize the benefits of organized labour migration.

“Through these discussions with labour migration partners, particularly the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, we hope to develop a structured approach towards labour migration in Afghanistan,” said IOM Afghanistan Policy Advisor Vivianne van der Vorst.

To help address these issues, IOM has been working with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, ILO and Samuel Hall Consulting to develop a National Labour Migration Policy for Afghanistan. The policy is a practical document that addresses Afghan labour migration priorities, including ways and means to promote overseas employment, while protecting migrant workers.

In addition, Afghanistan has been an active participant in the Colombo Process, a Regional Consultative Process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour. IOM provides technical support to the Colombo Process and serves as its Secretariat.

For further information, please contact Vivianne van der Vorst at IOM Kabul (