Helping reverse the ‘brain drain’ in Afghanistan

2 Dec 2013

Helping reverse the ‘brain drain’ in Afghanistan

KABUL - Since starting work at Kabul University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, Dr. Abdul Sharif Azizyar has made an impact.

He teaches post-graduate classes at the Faculty, trains future teaches and has helped develop the Faculty’s curriculum.

His presence at the educational institution is thanks to the ‘Return of Qualified Afghans’ (RQA) project of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). He returned to Afghanistan after some 14 years in the Netherlands where he had settled down following studies which led to a doctorate in the fine arts.

Dr. Azizyar is not alone - the RQA programme has facilitated the return of hundreds of skilled Afghans scattered around the world with the aim of contributing to nation‐building and the rehabilitation of social services, with a focus on priority sectors, including education and health.

“Afghan society went through a severe brain drain during the civil war and subsequent years,” said an IOM Liaison Officer, Mohammad Sediq Hazratzai. “After the collapse of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan desperately needed human resources, in terms of professionals and people with technical knowledge, many of whom had migrated from Afghanistan to neighbouring countries and other parts of the world.”

Through the RQA programme, some 1,433 Afghan experts living abroad have returned to Afghanistan from 31 countries to participate in rebuilding their nation, between 2002 and December 2013. IOM provides relocation assistance, including a special support package for female experts, and helps them to secure placements in key development‐related positions within ministries, government institutions and the private sector.

These experts are currently working in 24 government ministries, 33 government offices and institutions and in 75 non-governmental and international organizations in 28 provinces of the country. Out of these returned experts, 220 are female professionals. The majority of the experts work in the fields of infrastructure, health, education and information technology.

IOM publicizes opportunities via the RQA programme on its website and through media outlets. Interested candidates are asked to submit details of their qualifications, which are then shared with Afghan authorities and institutions, according to priority sectors, in the search for a suitable fit between the skilled Afghan and the potential place of employment. Afghan employers also reach out to IOM in the hope of receiving assistance.

“For example, recently, the national broadcaster Radio and Television of Afghanistan (RTA) told us that they want to start a news channel and they needed professionals to help them start this. We have not yet helped them with the provision of any professionals but the request is being considered,” said Mr. Hazratzai.

The RQM programme falls within IOM’s strategic focus of maximizing the relationship between migration and development. Through the request of the Government of Afghanistan, IOM is mandated to assist with orderly and humane migration. Its programmes in Afghanistan are implemented in close cooperation with national government counterparts and are designed to support the goals of the Afghan National Development Strategy.