Addressing migrants’ access to health, HIV/AIDS and TB services in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

photo side eventRemarks given at the side event “Addressing migrants’ access to health, HIV/AIDS and TB services in Eastern Europe and Central Asia”, held during the Human Rights Council in Geneva, June 17,  2016


Honorable Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for being present at this side event on HIV and TB among migrants in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Thank you to the Permanent Representation of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, IOM, UNAIDS, WHO, OFID in Vienna, IFRC and Project Hope for co-organizing this event with us. Thank you to the panelists. And thank you, Honorable Daniiar Mukashev for agreeing to co-Chair the event.

The event is focusing on HIV and TB among migrants in EECA and there are a number of reasons to that.

  1. Some of the world’s largest international labor migration trends are registered among Central Asian countries and with the Russian Federation, be it legal or irregular. A large proportion of migrant workers come from the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. But other countries are also sources of migration labor in the region, including Ukraine, Moldova, and Armenia.
  1. Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) is the only region of the world that continues to see a growth in the HIV/AIDS epidemic with a 57 % increase in the number of new infections reported in the last five years. The overall coverage with antiretroviral treatment remains low in the region as well as access to prevention, particularly for the most vulnerable groups of the population, including migrants.
  1. EECA is also a region where TB is a major issue of concern for public health. EECA accounts for approximately a quarter of the world’s MDR TB burden in the world. A number of circumstances may contribute to TB among migrants, including conditions of living and work; limited access to diagnosis and treatment; late presentation due to fear of being deported; the complex patterns of migrations including high mobility due to temporary and seasonal migration patterns and high number of undocumented migrants.


This event takes place on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council and there are also reasons to that.

In his report during this session of the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants has remembered that under the international law, states have the obligation to ensure and the responsibility to respect and uphold the right to health, in a manner that promotes non-discrimination, dignity and freedom for migrants regardless of legal status.

The inclusion of migration in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a call for leaving no one behind.

And of course, respecting the human rights of migrants can bring positive development outcomes, considering that labor migrants contribute to significant economic gains in the host country.

How is it that in 2016, deportations for Health reasons and restrictions on the circulation of people between countries in the region based on HIV status continue to happen?

Countries must work together to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people. And countries in the region must recognize that there is a need for a comprehensive response to HIV and TB among migrants in EECA, if we want to fast-track HIV and TB and give priority attention to vulnerable groups, as the world committed to by adopting the 2030 agenda and in the political declaration adopted at the High Level Meeting on AIDS last week in New York.

Civil society and communities have an important role to play in reaching to migrants and countries must be ready to support their work. I am pleased that IFRC and project Hope also participate to our panel.

Human rights are universal. They are also the rights of migrants. The right to health and decent care. The right to freedom from discrimination. The rights to equality before the law, to privacy, to work and education. The right to share in the advances of science.

Thank you.