‘It is in the local population’s interest that migrants don’t become embittered and don’t end up on the verge of life’
Daniil Kashnitsky on the help to migrants and their integration into society. Part 2
In the second part of the interview with Realnoe Vremya, participant of Migration and Health Regional Expert Group Daniil Kashnitsky talked about the treatment of migrants in Russia, studies of their children and vital necessity of integration of migrants. See the beginning here.
“It is necessary to abolish the norm of undesired stay of foreigners with HIV and tuberculosis”
I have recently learnt that the government of Russia is hiring labour migrants from Azerbaijan, Vietnam and the Philippines. Did Russia go for the labour force to the far southeast? Do we have a big shortage of workforce?
In general, Central Asian countries still have a potential for migration in the near future. I think that authorities are far-sighted, they further, the long term. In general I don’t think it is bad. It is correct to create channels for labour migration for people because they will anyway come to Russia. The question is if they will be undocumented migrants who have big health risks and a fear of being deported or if they will calmly live and work in normal conditions.
As for Southeast Asian countries, people have been coming from there for quite a long time. For instance, students from Vietnam have been coming since the USSR era. Today Russia has entrepreneurs from Vietnam, they can be seen, for instance, in wholesale markets in the southeast of the capital. By the way, they hire the same migrants from Central Asia, as they speak Russian well, unlike the majority of the Vietnamese. It is such interesting transnational relations.
Where are the successful experiences aimed at socialisation, integration into society abroad?
There was created a system of reception of humanitarian refugees in Northern European countries many years ago, after the Second World War. In other words, if you have legal documents there, you have access to social rights. People from the very beginning of their stay in these countries can count on, for instance, professional retraining. Northern European countries also have enough public organisations that help navigate in the complex bureaucratic world of a state. They help to complete documents, say where they must be submitted, warn about the dangers of a situation.
There is another good practice in Sweden. Here they provide treatment as supporting antiretroviral therapy for all HIV-positive migrants. The chance of staying in the country when nobody asks you why you receive treatment is, undoubtedly, precious. HIV and tuberculosis are socially important diseases that many people can be infected with. So such a decision of Sweden’s authorities contains not only kindness and humanity but also care about the epidemiological situation in the country. These diseases must be restrained, while for this purpose, people should be provided with treatment.
As a rule, young health people migrate. Indeed, host countries get the best of the best — young healthy men and women. This is why we can’t say that a heavy burden of treating migrants falls on Russia. On the contrary
Going back to Russia, I can say that both Moscow and Petersburg have non-profit organisations that help migrants, though their number is very lower. There is an amazing integration centre Same Children that teaches migrants’ children the Russian language. Also, I can single out the Civic Assistance Committee.
What spoils migrants’ life in Russia? For instance, identity check in the street. For instance, now I am living in Sweden, here I haven’t been asked for documents for months. They are required in shops selling alcohol. Actually, it is very important for personal safety, for both documented and undocumented migrants. I think it is the main means of protection of human dignity.
In Russia, it is necessary to abolish the norm of undesired stay of foreigners with HIV and tuberculosis. And not because Russia must be so kind but because people who have these diseases in fact anyway stay in the country. They know that they won’t be allowed to go back because they are already blacklisted. This is why such migrants are simply afraid of leaving the country. They need to maintain their family, repay debts… Without due information support, people are ashamed of telling their relatives about their disease. Moreover, you won’t die from HIV within months. People think they will work for some time more and go home to receive treatment. As a result, they will have been living in Russia for years, then they will get to ICU with almost zero immune cells and die. Nowadays migrants don’t have a possibility of receiving full treatment for HIV in Russia.
Sometimes migrants arrive in Russia with serious diseases. How to solve this problem?
As I already said, there is a healthy migrant effect. As a rule, young healthy people migrate. Indeed, host countries get the best of the best — young healthy men and women. This is why we can’t say that a heavy burden of treating migrants falls on Russia. It is the other way round.
As for infections, for instance, the same HIV, its spread in Russia is six times higher than in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It turns out their authorities should be concerned about the fact their citizens go to the country where they have high chances of being infected.
As for other diseases, the risks aren’t linked with the origin of migrants. Our regions haven’t had outbreaks of epidemics, malaria or cholera that took place a hundred years ago for long. On the contrary, if people live in inhuman conditions, there are prerequisites for losing health, catching the same tuberculosis. For instance, if they live in unheated basement flats, work for 12 hours, eat bread and pasta, the risks of falling sick increase. In other words, the conditions people who migrate are not human, these people quickly lose their health and jeopardise others’ health.
“It is sometimes racism, sometimes opposition because of bad Russian skills”
And if illegal migrants arrive with children or they give birth to them here, what status do these children have? Can they, for instance, easily go to school?
There is a problem here. It is written neither in international documents nor in the Constitution of Russia that only citizens of the Russian Federation must study in the country. All children should study. Nevertheless, when children go to school, problems arise. Directors need children to be in the e-base. And it is sometimes racism, sometimes opposition because of bad Russian skills.
But there is a handful of places that have conditions for migrants’ children to learn the Russian language and adapt. It is a big problem. There is an intellectual group in Moscow that is dealing with it now. It includes lawyers, activists who unite people from all over Russia, share successful experiences, try to inspire functionaries on the spot, show examples of successful integration of migrants’ children. But this is quite a serious problem. Unfortunately, quite many children don’t go to school. They sit at home.
It is written neither in international documents nor in the Constitution of Russia that only citizens of the Russian Federation must study in the country. All children should study. Nevertheless, when children go to school, problems arise
There are 12 million migrants in Russia, or 8% of the population of the country. And according to different sources, 7-8% of the country’s GDP is provided by migrants. What do these numbers mean? Should we concerned about how we will be able to live without them?
If they do provide such a serious share of GDP, if all migrants are kicked out of Russia, who will do all their job? There isn’t a critical unemployment problem among Russians today. One who wants will anyway find a job. There are jobs. We don’t have enough workforce, this is why migrants come. One certainly shouldn’t be afraid of it.
The number of migrants in Russia in the future will increase. Children of those who we call today migrants will be ordinary Russians. It is like, for instance, there was a mass migration of the rural population to Moscow, Leningrad in the 60-80s. These people adapted to urban life, their children got education, entered universities, today it is ordinary Muscovites. Also, there was migration from Transcaucasia in the 90s. Children got education in Moscow universities. Somebody stayed, somebody left the country. In any case, it is ordinary happy Muscovites who speak Russian fluently and work in this city.
There is research that shows that migrants’ adaptation cycles pass quite quickly in Russia. Children of migrants from Central Asian countries will also live and work here.
There is another interesting moment here. In Russia, there is no big class difference in districts because of socialistic urban planning when workers and academia lived in one blocks of flats. And the structure of migrants’ distribution is so that they live where they work. This is why migrants here rent flats in Central Okrug. The same happens in Petersburg. Of course, there are some tendencies. For instance, wholesale markets are in the southeast of the capital, there are more migrants there. But your place of residence doesn’t put paid to your social success in Moscow and Petersburg. There aren’t enclaves, and it facilitates better social adaptation. Not that it is the modern accomplishment, but it is the legacy of the socialistic past that is present in big Russian cities, in Middle Asian, Ukrainian and Central European cities.
Any honest researcher or analyst who knows how to work with data admits that the country, the economy anyway needs migration. And then the question is how smartly the Russian government will manage these processes
This is why, of course, the specific share of migrants will rise. It is a fact, consensus of demographers, economists, political experts who have completely different political views. I am talking about people who look at facts and analyse them without dealing with populism. Any honest researcher or analyst who knows how to work with data admits that the country, the economy anyway needs migration. And then the question is how smartly the Russian government will manage these processes. Actually, it is in the local population’s interest that migrants live well, they don’t become embittered, end up on the verge of life and that they have a lower risk of criminalisation. This won’t happen if they have clear career strategies, a chance of obtaining citizenship, documents, access to higher education. All migrants want their children to study. 10-20 years will pass, and these people will become rightful citizens of the metropolis. I am speaking about migrants’ adaptation processes in cities because I studied it. But there are also examples of migrants’ adaptation in the countryside where thus the dying population is replenished, though it is a fragmented occurrence. A big part of migrants is in demand in cities.