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UNHCR supports young refugees in pursuing their dreams

Astana, KAZAKHSTAN - Refugee youth have unique power to reach across the boundaries of language, geography and culture.  Recognition of their capacities and skills through meaningful engagement and employment opportunities enable young refugees not only to improve their own well-being but also to make positive contributions to host countries and countries of origin.


Razia, 24-year-old refugee from Afghanistan, is an inspiring role model who is determined to put her knowledge and skills to good use for the society.  She fled from civil war in Afghanistan with her family more than 20 years ago to Kazakhstan which offered them a safer place to live.  Despite many difficulties faced as a refugee, Razia graduated with honours from Kazakh-American University in 2016.  She keeps looking for opportunities to develop her skills however she can, through internships and online training courses on Сoursera.

Razia’s academic excellence, hard work and knowledge of several languages landed an impressive assignment at the United Nations in March 2018: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hired Razia as a trilingual interpreter for a seminar on maternal and child healthcare for Afghan public health workers organized in Astana.

“Razia is a high achiever in everything she does. She is a very hard-working and responsible person. I wish all her efforts and future endeavours bring success,” says Genadiy Rau, UNDP Project Manager. “I hope her achievements will be duly recognized and her skills and capacities will be used to the full for the benefit of Kazakhstan,” he adds.


“Working for the United Nations has always been my dream. In order to make my dream come true I chose International Relations as my major at the university and studied foreign languages,” Razia says.  “I was not sure if I would be hired because I got rejected many times due to my refugee document. My dream is to become a citizen of Kazakhstan to enjoy the guaranteed right to work and other rights on an equal basis with citizens. My goal is to work for the UN in the future.”  Refugees recognized by Kazakhstan receive one-year refugee status that can be extended on an annual basis.  Although refugees have the right to work, many prospective employers are reluctant to hire them due to their short-term legal status. 


Many young refugees like Razia, who have stayed all or most of their lives in Kazakhstan, consider themselves woven into the fabric of this country and strongly support its core values such as multi-ethnic society and tolerance.  UNHCR and its Partners advocate with the Government for the granting refugees a more durable status and inclusion of refugees in their policies in order to help them stand on their feet.  UNHCR is currently negotiating internship and employment opportunities for refugees with local businesses and private sector.


“Refugees can bring significant contributions to the community in many ways.  By becoming self-reliant, refugees can build stronger social, economic and cultural ties with the host communities, better integrate and contribute to building trust and peaceful coexistence,” says Roza Telibayeva, Refugee Project Coordinator, Kazakhstan Red Crescent Society.