Labor Exchange and Remittances

In direct support of the Government of Afghanistan’s National Labor Migration Strategy (2015-2018) and National Labor Policy (2016-2020), this Labor Exchange & Remittances initiative seeks to place around 250,000 new recruits into short term itinerant employment in the Gulf States, Central, and South Asia to boost the economy, bolster livelihoods, shore up the macro economy, and foster skills development. It aims to reinforce a fundamental objective of the National Labor Migration Strategy: “To facilitate the temporary migration of low-skilled, semi-skilled, and high-skilled workers abroad through promoting overseas employment opportunities, and thereby decrease the pressure on the domestic labor market in the short- to medium-term.” The economic contribution of migration, especially towards poverty reduction, employment generation, and women empowerment, can be extensive. If there is an addition of 250,000 laborers from Afghanistan to the Gulf States, for instance, one study estimates the total addition to remittances will be USD $432 Million, bringing the total remittances to USD $530 Million (approximately 3% of GDP).

Current Status

The Afghan Government continues to raise issues of Afghan worker conditions in its ongoing dialogue with several Gulf States, Central Asian Republics, and other neighboring countries. For example, the Governments of Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia are working towards a certification system agreement to promote and protect Afghan guest workers in Saudi Arabia, as well as the promotion of English and Arabic language lessons for guest workers. The Afghan Government is also exploring further ways to enhance the development benefits of labor migration, focused on: (i) Remittances: the government shall leverage remittance flows for development through regulated, cheaper, and safer methods of remittance transfers in the longer-term; (ii) Diaspora: the government aims to more actively support such activities as the IOM’s Return of Qualified Afghan Nationals Program and increase the role played by the diaspora in strengthening such initiatives; and (iii) Facilitating return and reintegration of migrant workers: the government aims to continue refugee return programs, while placing more emphasis on the successful reintegration of migrant workers (with the recognition of their skills developed abroad for the betterment of their home communities). Ongoing efforts in support of reginal labor exchange & remittances will serve to reinforce—in addition to the National Labor Migration Strategy and National Labor Policy—the Afghan Government’s Human Capital Development and Women’s Economic Empowerment National Priority Programs.

Recommended Actions by RECCA-VII and Beyond:

  • Promote support for and full implementation of the Government of Afghanistan’s National Labor Migration Strategy (2015-2018) and National Labor Policy (2016-2020).
  • Conclude a Memorandum of Understanding between Afghanistan and neighboring countries (and, in the case of Saudi Arabia, conclude the certification system agreement currently under discussion) where large numbers of Afghans seek to participate in guest worker programs.
  • The Government of Afghanistan will develop national legislation in line with international standards and aims to carry out an assessment on the ratification of the three international migrant worker conventions.
Budget & Funding Status Regular budget support to the Afghan Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs, and Disabled
Institutional Partners Afghanistan (Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs, and Disabled; Ministry of Education; and the Ministry of Public Works), Gulf States, Central Asian Republics, Pakistan, Iran, India, and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry