Saturday, November 28, 2015

Four links on Ukrainian migration futures

I have been wanting for some time to do an extended analysis of the ongoing Ukrainian situation. For the time being, here's four articles which suggest interesting future trends for migration from Ukraine, since the end of the Soviet Union one of the largest sources of migrants in the world.

First up is an October 2014 Open Democracy essay by Judith Twigg, "Human capital and the Ukraine crisis". Here, Twigg outlines the demographic dynamics of Ukraine before 2014, noting here migration trends.
[A]ccording to the International Labor Organisation (ILO), between January 2010 and June 2012, 1.2m Ukrainians (3.4% of the adult population) were working or looking for work abroad. About two-thirds of these were men, and one-third women. Most were relatively young (20-49 years old), and the ratio of rural to urban Ukrainian labour migrants is about 2:1. Most are legal, with only about one in five Ukrainian migrant workers irregular. Several non-ILO studies offer far larger estimates of total Ukrainian labour migration, some as large as 5 to 7m seasonal migrants over summer periods. If these larger estimates are accurate, then Ukraine has replaced now-legalized EU-8 nationals as the major supplier of irregular workers at the bottom of European Union labour markets; and the Ukraine-to-Russia corridor is now the second-largest migration route in the world (surpassed only by Mexico-to-U.S.). According to the ILO, the main destination countries for Ukrainian labour migration (2010-2012) were Russia (43%), Poland (14%), Italy (13%), and the Czech Republic (13%).

[. . .]

Over time, Ukrainian labour migration to Russia is decreasing, and to the EU is increasing. Ukrainian labour migrants tend to fall into two categories: young people leaving permanently due to a lack of job opportunities at home, and circulating migrants engaging in temporary labour. One Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy study has shown that most Ukrainians seeking work abroad do so because of low wages at home (about 80%), as opposed to unemployment (about 10%). Most Ukrainian labour migrants are working in relatively low-skilled jobs, leading to a mismatch between some migrants’ skills and their current work positions. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 65% of Ukrainian labour migrants have completed secondary education, 15% have some higher education, and 15% have completed higher education. This produces a situation where almost half of Ukrainian migrants are employed in work for which they are clearly overqualified, a phenomenon referred to as ‘downshifting’ or ‘brain waste.’

In 2012, an estimated $7.5 billion equivalent in private remittances was transferred to Ukraine, equal to about 4% of Ukraine’s GDP that year (and exceeding 2012 net foreign direct investment, which was around $6 billion). This figure rose to $9.3 billion in 2013. This makes Ukraine the third largest recipient of remittance payments in the world, after India and Mexico. According to the ILO, the Ukrainian economy would have lost about 7% of its activity in 2012 without the stimulus effect from these migrant transfers. Remittance flows were first registered in a significant way in 2006 (about $1 billion) and have increased annually since then. The primary source country for remittance payments is Russia, followed by the United States, Germany, Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom; these payments are therefore coming from members of the permanent diaspora as well as from labour migrants.

ILO data suggest that Ukraine’s main source regions for labour migration are those in the far west: Zakarpattia and Chernivtsi are classified as ‘very high’ source regions, with Volyn, Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Khmelnytskyi, and Cherkasy ranking as ‘high’ source regions. The central regions are classified as ‘very low’ sources, with all of the southern and eastern regions except Luhansk classified as ‘low’ (Luhansk, along with Rivne, Vinnytsia, and Mykolaiv, are classified as ‘average’). This means that, setting aside refugees from the recent conflict in the east, most out-migration from Ukraine is draining the most demographically stable and healthy parts of the country.

Given the scale of the devastation in the Donbas, with some estimates I've come across suggesting half the population or more has left--reputedly often disproportionately of working age--new sources and destinations are also likely.
In February of 2015, Olga Gulina's essay "Re-drawing the map of migration patterns" noted the likely consequences of the collapse of Ukrainian migration to Russia for the receiving country.

[I]n 2014, the number of migrants from Ukraine far outstripped Central Asia. Indeed, the statistical data for 2014 shows a decline in migration flows from all CIS countries, excluding Belarus (up by 4,455 in 2014) and Ukraine (up by 36,106 in 2014). Both Belarus and Russia have introduced simplified rules for residency and employment for people re-locating from areas affected by conflict in Ukraine.

According to statistics from 20 January, 2015, Russia’s Federal Migration Service (FMS) records show that, from the Former Soviet Union, there are 2,417,575 Ukrainians (5.6% of Ukraine’s population) living in the Russian Federation, alongside 999,169 Tajiks (12.1%), 597,559 Kazakhs (3.5%), 579,493 Azeris (6.1%), 561,033 Moldovans (15.8%), 544,956 Kyrgyz (9.6%), 517,828 Belarusians (5.5%), and 480,017 Armenians (15.9%).

[. . .]

The human capital in the economy of Russia’s big cities will suffer irrecoverable losses. Big cities need cheap labour. The traditional spheres of labour migrants’ employment – services and urban amenities, public catering, construction and transportation – are bound to experience labour shortages. The St Petersburg city authorities have already announced that 30% of labour migrants left their jobs in the city’s urban amenities sector. The Moscow city authorities, summarising the results of 2014, spoke about declining numbers of incoming labour migrants. As a result, the inbound migration growth rate in Moscow fell by 40% in 2014 versus 2013.

[. . .]

The most serious changes in migration policy have affected Ukrainian nationals. The events in Ukraine have created a new layer of migrants in post-Soviet space – humanitarian migrants, for whose support Belarus and Russia simplified immigration law (particularly employment regulation). Additionally, the Russian Federation has allocated 366 million roubles (£3.7million) from the federal budget to regions receiving and accommodating those newcomers. According to FMS, the numbers of Ukrainian nationals coming to Russia are still growing. More than 2.6 million Ukrainians stayed in Russia in 2014, and 245,510 among them applied for refugee status and temporary asylum. In January 2015, the number of Ukrainian citizens in Russia had grown by 1.6%.

But the Ukrainian nationals who arrived in Russia as humanitarian migrants in 2014, will be deprived of their previous privileges in 2015. The head of Russia’s Federal Migration Service, Konstantin Romodanovsky, has already announced that all ‘privileges for Ukrainian nationals will end in 2015. We were exceptionally liberal in relation to Ukrainian nationals in 2014, but we will return to normal regulation and treat Ukrainians according to the rules in 2015.’

The collapse of visa-free travel rules between the two countries is also going to hinder future migration. This, again, is explored at Tass, in Lyudmila Alexandrova's English-language commentary "Labour migrants from Ukraine benefit Russian economy".

The lax migration rules most Ukrainian citizens in Russia have enjoyed since the beginning of hostilities in Dobnass expired last Saturday. The 90-day period of their presence in Russia without proper registration will not be prolonged any more. Those of them who have spent more than three months in Russia will now have one month to legalize their status in Russia. Exceptions have been made for refugees from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. The rules of presence in Russia and the automatic prolongation of their stay will remain unchanged. Those who fail to formalize their status by December 1 will be faced with administrative measures applied to all illegal migrants, ranging from administrative punishment to expulsion and subsequent ban from entering Russia.

There are about 2.6 million Ukrainian citizens in Russia at the moment, says the deputy chief of the Federal Migration Service, Vadim Yakovenko. More than one million of them are from Ukraine’s southeastern regions, and more than 600,000 others are in breach of the migration rules.

Since April 2014 404,000 Ukrainians have asked the Federal Migration Service for temporary asylum or refugee status, and another 265,000 for temporary residence permits.

[. . .]

"Of course, the number of migrants will get smaller," leading research fellow Yulia Florinskaya, of the Russian presidential academy RANEPA, has told TASS. "They will have to either update their licenses and pay big money, something they are not in the habit of doing, or pack their bags. Some of them, the most skilled ones, will leave."

She agrees that the potential of Ukrainian labour migrants is being used not to the full extent: "All experts have suggested giving temporary residence permits to Ukrainians without any quotas."

"We are interested in keeping these people here. Ukrainian migrants play a tangible role in our economy, particularly so at a time when the number of migrants from Central Asia is on the decline. Should these people get up and go, there will be no chance of ever luring them back. This is very bad strategically. Besides, we do have the vacancies for them. Our own able-bodied population has been shrinking by 900,000 to 1,000,000 a year."

I would note, again, that a Russian migration policy that accepts migrants, refugee and otherwise, from the Donbas region and does not accept the same from the rest of Ukraine, particularly given the close links between the Donbas and the Russian Federation, might well create a situation where emigration from a devastated Donbas to Russia will accelerate. The consequences of this for Russia, Ukraine, and the separatist republics could be serious indeed. Who will be left to man the republics' militaries if no one lives there?

Finally, in the commentary "Poland: Immigration or Stagnation" by Thomas Mulhall at New Eastern Europe, an article that looks at the demographic situation of Poland speculates as to the source of that country's immigrants.

Even though a crisis is not imminent in Poland, it is worth looking at where people will come from to fill the inevitable labour shortage when it arrives. The obvious candidate is Ukraine. It is one of Poland's neighbours and its GDP per capita is about a quarter of that of Poland. The countries have historical ties with the western city of Lviv once belonging to Poland. There is also some shared linguistic heritage with many (predominantly older) Ukrainians and Poles both speaking Russian. A smaller number of Ukrainians also speak Polish. Ukraine is also going through a war in the east of the country and an economic collapse that will take years to recover. Poles are genuinely sympathetic to the Ukrainian plight over the situation with Russia and waves of people are already fleeing to Poland, seeking jobs and refuge. The numbers of Ukrainians already arriving/living in Poland’s major cities is very noticeable. Some estimates suggest that the number of unregistered Ukrainians in Poland could be as high as 400,000. Officially, Ukrainians are invited to Poland for temporary or seasonal positions. However, only a small fraction is given residency.

It is safe to say that the Polish society is not very welcoming to the idea of mass immigration. Many Poles look at the effect of immigration on countries such as France and the UK in a very negative way. They hear exaggerated stories of “ghettos” and ethnic tension, and some fear an encroachment of other cultures and identities on their own. [Philippe] Legrain believes that Ukrainian immigration on a large scale would be a good place to start. He states, “If migrants to Poland initially come from places like Ukraine, they will not be that different from resident Polish people, so the cultural shock may be smaller.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Some notes on the Turkmen, Turkey, and this diaspora's future

Earlier today, on my personal blog I noted, after a friend's observation on Facebook that the Turkish shootdown of a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 on the Turkish-Syrian border, the pilots successfully escaping in parachutes only to be shot dead was Syrian Turkmen Brigades in Syria. This is obviously a critical issue from the perspective of conflict--Robert Farley's post at Lawyers, Guns and Money, and Leonid Bershidsky's Bloomberg View opinion piece, do good jobs of noting the state things are in. My attention was caught by another issue: Who are the Syrian Turkmen?

Simply put, the Syrian Turkmen are a substantial ethnic minority, apparently concentrated near the Turkish border, amounting to the hundreds of thousands. How many hundreds of thousands? Might it even be millions? There's no firm data, it seems, much as there is no firm data on the numbers of Iraqi Turkmen. What is known is that these Turkish minorities are numerous, that their zones of inhabitation overlap at least in part with that of ethnic Kurds, and that they are politically close to Turkey. As Vox's Zack Beauchamp noted, in the particular case of Syria the Turkmen are opposed to Russia.

The Turkmen arrived in what's now Syria centuries ago, as various different Turkic empires — first the Seljuks, then the Ottomans — encouraged Turkish migration into the territory to counterbalance the local Arab majority. Under Bashar al-Assad's rule, the mostly Sunni Muslim Turkmen in Syria were an oppressed minority, denied even the right to teach their own children in their own language (a Turkish dialect).

However, the Turkmen didn't immediately join the anti-Assad uprising in 2011. Instead, they were goaded into it by both sides. Assad persecuted them, treating them as a potential conduit for Turkish involvement in the Syrian civil war. Turkey, a longtime enemy of Assad, encouraged the Turkmen to oppose him with force. Pushed in the same direction by two major powers, the Turkmen officially joined the armed opposition in 2012.

Since then, they've gotten deeply involved in the civil war, receiving significant amounts of military aid from Ankara. Their location has brought them into conflict with the Assad regime, ISIS, and even the Western-backed Kurdish rebels (whom Turkey sees as a threat given its longstanding struggle with its own Kurdish population). Today, the Syrian Turkmen Brigades — the dominant Turkmen military faction — boast as many as 10,000 fighters, per the BBC, though the real number could be much lower.

The Turkmen role in the conflict has put them directly in Russia's crosshairs. The Russians, contrary to their stated goal of fighting ISIS, have directed most of their military efforts to helping Assad's forces fight rebels. The Turkmen have clashed repeatedly with Assad and his allies in the north — which led to Russian planes targeting Turkmen militants last week.

Turkey was not happy, and called in the Russian ambassador to register its disapproval. "It was stressed that the Russian side's actions were not a fight against terror, but they bombed civilian Turkmen villages and this could lead to serious consequences," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a description of the meeting provided to Reuters.

Could, as Beauchamp suggests, the Turkish attack have been a warning to Russia to avoid attacking Turkey's ethnic kin? It's imaginable, at least.

I'm unaware of research conducted on the propensity of Syrian Turkmen to migrate. I might speculate that, given the intensity of the fighting in Syria, the proximity of Turkmen communities to the Turkish border, and the relatively small cultural distance between Turkmen and Turks, there might be great incentives to migrate. More concretely, British Turkish scholar Ibrahim Sirkeci has conducted research on Iraqi Turkmen, specifically the January 2005 report "Turkmen in Iraq and International Migration of Turkmen" (PDF format) and the January 2011 followup "Turkmen in Iraq and Their Flight: A Demographic Question". In these studies, Sirkeci notes that not only do Turkmen in Iraq have great incentives to leave, but that they can leverage their cultural connections with Turkey to emigrate to Europe and elsewhere. Two press reports from last year note that Iraqi Turkmen have encountered problems crossing into Turkey, but given the mutability of the situation I would not count on this lasting.

At my blog, I said--and still say--that I see a tragic irony in this story. At least in part in an effort to diminish the negative consequences from Russia's support of armed ethnic kin against their parent state in Ukraine, Russia has now come into conflict with Turkey's armed ethnic kin as they fight against their parent state. Terrible conflicts, like the one in Syria or like the lower-intensity conflict in Ukraine, tend to result in permanent dislocations of populations, particularly vulnerable diasporas. After the Second World War, for instance, West Germany's economic success led to the absorption not only of millions of East Germans, but of most of the German diaspora that remained. Less catastrophically, after the fall of the Soviet Union ethnic Russians--and others--emigrated to Russia in large numbers. Curiously, comparatively few Magyars moved to Hungary, perhaps indicating the relative contentment of Magyars in Hungary's neighbouring countries and Hungary's lack of attractiveness as a destination. Especially with demographic and economic changes in Turkey that might make immigration necessary, I find it too easy to imagine that, one day soon, there will not be very many Turkmen left in Syria and Iraq at all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On the ineffective and immoral proposal of David Frum

A recent post by Shakezula at Lawyers, Guns and Money Canadian-born American political commentator David Frum posted to his Twitter account a proposal to deal with terrorism in Europe.

Alas, subsequent posts on his Twitter feed make it unlikely that this was a proposal he was offering forth in the noble tradition of Jonathan Swift.

There are many things that can be said about this proposal. Perhaps the most important, at least from the perspective of practicality, is that it wouldn't work. Most of the perpetrators were in Europe more than two years ago, many seem in fact to have been native-born citizens of one European country or another (France and Belgium). Are we to broaden the scope of this mass deportation--what some, perhaps unfavourable to this cause, might call an ethnic cleansing? How far back shall we go? Who shall determine who gets to stay? Do people of Muslim ancestry in Europe itself, like Bosniaks and Albanians, get to stay? Shall we also include converts? What legal mechanisms will be established to enable mass deportations of sufficient scope, whatever sufficient is?

Moving on from issues of practicality, Frum's proposal is inhumane, and this inhumanity would make things worse. It's difficult to see how any effort at a mass deportation of European residents, including European citizens, based on their religion would not end catastrophically for everyone involved, not least by legitimating the Daesh's rhetoric of an inevitable clash between Christians and Muslims worldwide.

Pew Research Centre's statistical overview of European Muslim populations is worth noting, if you want some quick statistics. What better place to start than with actual data?