Migration from Armenia to Russia: International Conference on Migration

Eurasia Partnership Foundation, together with the Armenian organization Zinvori Mair convened a two-day international conference entitled Migration from Armenia to Russia: the Role of Civil Society, Networks, and Dialogue with Government on April 29-30 at the Congress Hotel in Yerevan. Total number of 90 experts on migration issues from state and non-governmental entities from Armenia and Russia attended. The conference was part of Eurasia Partnership Foundation’s labor migration program, which provides information to migrants and potential migrants through NGO-based service centers, which also aid in migrants’ return and reintegration.

At the conference, EPF presented for the first time the findings of new CRRC research study on migration (2007-2008). The survey research was conducted in eight communities in Armenia in close cooperation with seven Migration Resource and Returnee Centers established as a part of EPF’s Migration Program. The Migration Research Project aimed at building the professional capacity of regional NGO-based service centers to collect and analyze data about their communities. Its aim was also to enrich knowledge on migration trends in communities and serve as a baseline study for further research.

A total of 1862 households with or without migrants participated in the survey, and an additional 388 migrants were interviewed separately for their migration experiences. The survey is representative on a community level and describes migration trends in specific communities. Yet, some similarities across communities allow us to make generalizations. Based on the aggregated study results, 92 percent of interviewed migrants choose Russia as their major destination country, and 82 percent of them migrate for employment as seasonal migrants. The majority of migrants prefer to find their lodging with their employer, since it allows them to save money on rent and food expenses.

The results demonstrate that seasonal migrants for the most part have the intention of satisfying their basic needs, rather than becoming more affluent. It allows a migrant’s household to reach or maintain a socio-economic status equal to their reference group – the other members of the community. The main difficulties that migrants experience upon return are related to job opportunities in the country: finding a job and starting a new business. The job market in Armenia cannot meet the demand of those with a low level of education and professional skills.

In addition to CRRC’s migration research study, Advanced Social Technologies presented the results of its 2005 nationwide migration study, and CRRC presented its findings related to migration and remittances from its yearly Data Initiative. The conference, which was made possible by funding from USAID, brought together different stakeholders to present the experience of government and non-government entities in addressing migration-related issues. The conference also encouraged bilateral cooperation between government and non-governmental organizations in Russia and Armenia to develop migration policies, as well as special assistance and reintegration programs for migrants.