1 February 2020 — 30 April 2022

Part of the project “Strengthening Social Cohesion in Central Asia” aimed to strengthen rehabilitation and reintegration mechanisms of repatriates through psycho-social support and community-welcoming initiatives.


In 2019 the Central Asia Republics started operations to return their citizens from combat zones of Syria and Iraq.

In Kazakhstan, 5 humanitarian operations have been carried out to return citizens from the zones of terrorist activity to their homeland. As a result, 595 citizens of Kazakhstan have returned, among whom the vast majority were women (156) and children (406, of which 32 are orphans).

In Uzbekistan, 5 operations, carried out between May 2019 and August 2021, led to the repatriation of 599 people from SIA (Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan). These 5 operations returned to Uzbekistan 126 women, 2 men, and 471 children. The vast majority of children were born in SIA. 

In March 2021, Kyrgyzstan started an operation to repatriate 79 children aged 2-18 from Iraq’s combat zones. The repatriated children and women need thorough and complex rehabilitation measures with further steps to reintegrate them into their community.

Why the component is important?

The international and local experts, civil society leaders, journalists, professionals, and state representatives present the issues relating to the process of returning citizens (primarily women, youth, and children) to their countries of origin as a new chapter in the field of preventing the violent extremism. The theme of returnees’ repatriation, rehabilitation, and reintegration is relatively new and not well understood by Central Asia government officials, academicians, and civil society. Therefore, the project-based interventions constituted a timely effort to build sustainable in-country capacities to prevent violent extremism in Central Asia effectively.

How was this objective pursued?

Through conducting case analysis in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on their approaches and experience in reintegration and rehabilitation of returnees

Through training courses for psychologists and social workers on providing psycho-social support

Through organising cross border visits and regional conferences for exchanging best practices and lessons learned regarding reintegration and rehabilitation measures and preventing violent extremism

Results achieved through rehabilitation and reintegration related activities

With the Centre for Mind and Body Medicine (CMBM), Search conducted capacity-building activities on providing psychosocial and trauma-healing support to repatriates from combat zones. 30 psychologists, psychotherapists, and employees of NGOs from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan benefited from these activities. This training improved participants’ knowledge with, on average, 79% of correct answers in the post-test. This activity was co-funded by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

Search awarded 10 psycho-social and action-oriented support mini-grants to trainees to support the organisation of mind and body sessions for returnees in their communities. 

Two case studies investigated the Kazakh, and Uzbek experiences and approaches to the rehabilitation and reintegration of repatriates returning from the zones of terrorist activity in Syria and Iraq have been conducted. The studies identified both successful practices and shortcomings, providing recommendations for improving programs for the rehabilitation and reintegration of repatriates. The findings of the case studies have been discussed in a briefing event, gathering  56 participants from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan with representatives from state agencies, media outlets, CSOs, and the expert community.

Exchange visits to share experiences on repatriation and reintegration processes have been organized among relevant stakeholders in Central Asia. These events constituted a platform to exchange lessons learned and best practices between countries in the region, both among governments and among civil society actors. This series of meetings gathered 121 participants in total (43 male, 78 female). 

A roadmap was developed for the rehabilitating and reintegrating of women and children from Iraq combat zones, contextualizing the Kyrgyz approach. This roadmap aims to inform the repatriation process and provide guidance to prepare for the next repatriation of children in Kyrgyzstan.


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