According to afghan refugees, there are doctors, teachers and specialists of new technologies and other crafts among them, but they cannot work in their specialty in Tajikistan. This is despite the fact that only in 2021, thousands of teachers and hundreds of doctors left Tajikistan to move to Russia, and now the country's schools and hospitals are in great need of specialists.  

“If I don’t work, I will lose my skills” 

Afghan doctor Farid Haidari came to Tajikistan to seek asylum in 2019. Haidari says that after numerous threats from armed persons and terrorist act near the hospital he worked in, he was forced to leave his country. 

Farid Haidari graduated from Kabul Medical University in 1992 and worked as a surgeon in the Clinic of the Republic of Afghanistan until 2019. According to him, he also has a degree, and along with medical practice, he taught students of medical university. 

According to this doctor, unsafe situation in Afghanistan deprived him opportunity to both treat and teach, and unwittingly he had to become refugee:

"The doctor cannot work in such situation. We found ourselves between two fires: militants, in addition to demanding money by force, also made us to treat their relatives. On the other hand, state authorities insisted us not to provide medical assistance to the militants." 

Now he has an asylum in Tajikistan, but he cannot work in his specialty. According to Haidari, in order to get a job in hospitals and clinics of Tajikistan, first he needs take steps to recognize his education documents as equivalent in this country. 

He says, after Taliban government came to power, this became almost impossible, since Haidari needs the certificate or confirming document from the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan to confirm his document on higher education. The document that, in greater probability, the Taliban government will never give him.  

Not only Haidari cannot work in his specialty in Tajikistan. 

What is the main obstacle? 

Nigina Pallaeva, employee of "Children, migrants, citizens with disabilities" public organization that works with Afghan refugees, says, there are also many teachers and other qualified specialists among refugees. However, they cannot work in Tajikistan in their specialty due to lack of documents or non-recognition of documents as equivalent.

"Doctors come to us and complain about the lack of work. They say, "if we don’t apply our abilities in the specialty, it is likely that we will begin to forget about them." The main obstacle for Afghan refugees to get job is paperwork," - says Nigina Pallaeva. 

As reported by Shirinbek Davlatshoev, employee of the «Human and Justice" public organization, persons who receive refugee certificate, according to the law acquire the right to conduct activities in Tajikistan.  

"As soon as refugees receive the refugee certificate, they begin to fully enjoy all the rights and benefits available to Tajik citizens. The exception is work in the civil service and militia," - he explained. 

It remains unknown how many of 15 thousand afghan refugees in Tajikistan have education and qualifications, but at the same time, the Ministry of Education and Science reported that out of number of afghan citizens, only 5 people work in the field of education: two of them in secondary schools, and three others in higher educational institutions. 

Shirinbek Davlatshoev

"In reception days of the ministry, afghan refugees come to meet the minister with the aim of getting job. However, first they have to go through the procedure for recognizing the equivalence of their education documents," - says Ehson Khushbakht, spokesman of the Ministry of Education and Science of Tajikistan. 

It was not possible to get access to information from the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population on how many afghan doctors are currently involved in the work. 

For people with education documents of foreign higher educational institutions, one of the main requirements for hiring in state and non-state institutions of Tajikistan is the recognition of their equivalence. The Agency for Control of Education and Science of Tajikistan in written response reported that since the beginning of 2019 to the end of 2021 more than 1 thousand requests for recognition of the equivalence of documents (nostrification) were given positive answers.  

When asked how many of them were foreign citizens, in particular afghans, the Agency did not provide us with the answer. 

For security reasons and education system differences 

In light of that both refugees and human rights activists talk about obstacles to hiring foreign specialists, some experts are skeptical about the presence of foreign specialists in Tajikistan. In compliance with professor Abdurahmon Kurbonov, employee of the Center for Strategic Researches under the President of RT, according to statistics only 43 percent of population of Afghanistan is educated.   

Abdurahmon Kurbonov

According to Kurbonov, in addition to all this, the education system of Afghanistan differs from the education system of Tajikistan. For this reason, Afghan teachers cannot work in schools of Tajikistan. As for specialists in the field of new or IT-technologies,  it is also impossible to hire them in Tajikistan's institutions for security reasons. 

“Schools in Afghanistan don't operate. And those minds that were in Afghanistan left the country. I don't think there are specialists in these areas who could be hired in Tajikistan,” – said Kurbonov. 

Despite the fact that according to Kurbonov foreign specialists will not choose Tajikistan because of low wages and working conditions, he still advocates bringing foreign personnel in socio-economic spheres of Tajikistan. 

“If we refrain from bringing in foreign specialists…” 

While there are debates about availability or lack of qualified specialists among afghan refugees in Tajikistan, some other experts believe that right now there has been a very convenient opportunity to involve afghan refugees in work. In opinion of Asomiddin Atoev, the expert on new technologies, Tajikistan needs to attract specialists from neighboring countries and cooperate with them to implement it's four strategic goals: ensuring energy independence, overcoming communication isolation, protecting food security and industrializing the country. 

"If under various pretexts, including under the pretext of national security, we will refrain from bringing in foreign specialists, in the end it will harm ourselves. If to act on this logic, other countries, including Russia and other neighboring countries, can also dismiss Tajik citizens or not hire them. As we see, many citizens of Tajikistan work in state and private institutions of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia," - noted Atoev.  

According to afghan doctor - Farid Haidari, who came to Tajikistan as a refugee in 2019, he intends to operate legally, and doesn't want to treat people without permission. Moreover, until the moment his education document is recognized, he doesn't desire to work in any hospital. First, the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan, and then the Consulate of Afghanistan must confirm the validity of Haidari diploma. Only after that he will be able to contact the Agency for Control of Education and Science of Tajikistan.

Asomiddin Atoev

He says, as far as he knows, none of doctors he knows who are in Tajikistan work anywhere. “Documentation is one thing, but finding the job in hospitals is quite another. The doctor undergoes training throughout his life. Wherever he goes, he treats people regardless of race, nation and religion. If we stop working, we will get behind life. Whatever opportunity I'll get in Tajikistan - to teach or to treat, I am ready to do this with full dedication,” - he summed up.