Social Assistance to Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Kazakhstan
The project in brief
The project is implemented by the Red Crescent Society of the Republic of Kazakhstan (RCS RK). It began in January 1995 and is currently ongoing.
The project implemented by the Red Crescent Society of Kazakhstan (RCS RK), with support from UNHCR since 1995, aims at assisting the most vulnerable refugees, especially those whose vulnerabilities prevent them from engaging in any official or informal income generating activity. For instance, the RCS RK advocates with the Government for inclusion of refugees in the State’s assistance programmes, including their inclusion into national healthcare system and mandatory insurance scheme, and receiving life-saving medical interventions.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Refugees recognized under the Convention and UNHCR mandate in Kazakhstan, also asylum-seekers, have access to primary and secondary education on the same footing as nationals. Higher education is accessible on a paid basis only. The project aims at ensuring that all refugee-children attend primary and secondary school in line with the national legislation. The RCS RK extends its advocacy and partnership activities to facilitate access of talented refugees to the higher educational institutions.
The project aims at advocating for inclusion of refugees and asylum-seekers into national healthcare system and mandatory insurance scheme on par with citizens as well assisting small number of refugees recognized under UNHCR mandate to access health care on a paid basis until alternative solution is found. The project also assists refugees and asylum seekers with serious life-threatening conditions in need of urgent medical interventions that do not fall under the guaranteed level of healthcare, e.g. complicated surgeries and life-saving medical interventions.
Overall, the project seeks to improve health, living conditions, ensure community-based protection and promote local integration for refugees and asylum seekers in Kazakhstan until other durable solutions, such as an expansion of social rights for them to be included in the state social protection and social health insurance schemes etc., are found for them.
Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice
- National legislation and compliance: The project ensures that all children of refugees and asylum-seekers attend primary and secondary schools.
- Support from local actors, such as RCS RK, until alternative and durable solution is found. The Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (KIBHR) has assisted displaced people in need of legal services.
- Partnership to save lives: Supported by UNHCR, the project assists refugees and asylum-seekers with serious life-threatening conditions in need of urgent medical interventions.
- Relevant agencies of the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, such as the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population, and Departments of Employment and Social Programmes of the City of Shymkent and Almaty
- UNHCR, and
- Other stakeholders, such as the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (KIBHR), and Sana Sezim (the Legal Center for Women’s Initiatives).
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
- Personnel reshuffles in government agencies and administrations at national and sub-national levels,
- Lack of State’s social assistance scheme for them to receive social and medical insurance, and
- Due to their temporary resident permits, challenges are in many fronts, e.g. to plan properly for their future,
- A challenge worth noting is to support refugees and asylum seekers to meet their basic needs, but at the same time not to decrease their capacities to sustain themselves for their own self-reliance.
How they were overcome
The RCS RK has addressed challenges through:
- Regular communications and close working relationship with key government officials to ensure smooth knowledge transfer when change occurs in public administration,
- Advocacy with government to raise awareness of concerns and vulnerabilities of refugees and asylum-seekers, also
- Professional trainings, including languages skills, to committed and vulnerable displaced people to increase their chance to be employed for income generation.
Results of the Good Practice
- Younger generation from the displaced people community has better chance for their development: The RCS RK, with support from partners, has facilitated access of talented refugees to the higher education institutions and professional school. An example is a refugee youth, having grown up in Kazakhstan, has completed the required education and training to realise his dream, which is to become a pilot. In collaboration with UNHCR and DAFI scholarship programme, the RCS RK promotes scholarship opportunities for refugee children and youth.
- Women have equal opportunities to receive education support and vocational training to thrive in Kazakh society. Through advocacy and life-skill trainings, the RCS RK promotes gender equity to increase women’s employment, also to reduce gender-based violence.
- Household bread owners can better plan for their family, thanks to regular financial assistance and increased amount of support to respond to the increased cost of living.
The collaboration will continue in the future to support the most vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
- The RCS RK would appreciate support from the corporate sector by providing funding or in-kind support, also employment opportunities, to refugees and asylum seekers.
- Government’s consideration for better support, for instance, to include refugees and asylum-seekers in State’s health insurance scheme and to make resident permits with a less temporary nature, would be helpful.