Kazakhstan will fund the relocation of 1,259 families of ethnic Kazakhs from abroad and a further 463 families from the country’s densely-populated southern regions to the northern regions along the border with Russia in 2016, the government said.
The Kazakh government suspended a programme to encourage ethnic Kazakh migration from abroad after the events in the oil town of Zhanaozen which resulted in 15 official deaths in clashes between striking oil workers and security forces in December 2011, blaming the unrest on ethnic Kazakh migrants. However, following Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea in March 2014 the government resurrected the programme in order to boost the number of ethnic Kazakhs in northern regions.
Ethnic Russians constitute a significant minority in the country’s north along the border with Russia and in some regions, for example Kostanay and North Kazakhstan, they outnumber ethnic Kazakhs. The government estimates ethnic Kazakhs living abroad to number around 5mn people, mainly in Uzbekistan, China, Russia, Turkmenistan and Mongolia.
According to a Health and Social Development Ministry resolution, 690 families of ethnic Kazakh migrants will be settled in Pavlodar Region, 260 in East Kazakhstan Region, 123 in Akmola Region, 108 in North Kazakhstan Region, 29 in West Kazakhstan Region, 28 in Atyrau Region and 21 families in Kostanay Region.
In addition, 463 families from predominantly ethnic Kazakh south will be settled in the country’s north: 300 families in Pavlodar Region, 101 families in North Kazakhstan Region, 40 in East Kazakhstan Region and 22 families in Kostanay Region.
Under the programme, the government provides assistance with housing and jobs and covers relocation costs.
Kazakhstan received 261,104 families or 957,772 ethnic Kazakhs from abroad between 1991 and 2015. The country’s population stands at 17.7mn as of March 1.