Quarantine is left without the income of hundreds of thousands of labour migrants work in Russia — the only way to feed your family at home. Many have begun to return home, where the chances of a normal employment even less. Kyrgyzstan is one of the most dependent on remittances country in the world, and mass repatriation threatens the economy, and hence ordinary people, large losses.

In March, the family of the 23-year-old Kyrgyzstan Damira were almost without money. The last six months he worked at a construction site in Moscow to support his elderly parents, wife and two baby daughters. But in the spring the construction site where he worked, was suspended, and the salary for the last two months of work and not paid.

“a Year ago, when my wife and I were born twins, I sold my car for three thousand dollars to come to Moscow. Prior to this, in Bishkek I taksovat. It became clear that the daily revenue of the private carting the family not to feed. We sometimes even diapers are not enough,” — says Damir.

the 21-year-old Mayram, his wife, remained at home with his parents and children. None of them works, and every month when Damir sends them money, the first thing a family buys a lot of meat and flour to stretch until next month, and pays the bills. Balance enough for diapers, medication and clothes for the children, says Mayram.

If Damir is impossible to send more money, the parents buy a lamb or a lamb and send a herdsman to summer pasture jailoo.

“Cattle — good investment, — explains Mayram. In autumn it can be sold or put on the meat, and the money we would have eaten. I can’t remember when was the last time something for myself bought. Probably only the shirt when we were in the hospital”.

my parents ‘ House Damir small — only three rooms and a garden, where Mayram and mother-in-law planted tomatoes, cucumbers and a few potatoes to not buy them on the market. The menu is made from minimum of available products.

in Addition to Demurovoy salaries, the only permanent source of income for the family is pension of a father-in-law of size 6000 soms (about $ 80), but almost all of it goes into his own diabetes medication.

the Young couple hoped that when Damir settle in Moscow, you’ll be able to pick up Mayram to him, and together they earn on a new car and finish the house.

the Family of Damira Bitica lives in a small village near Bishkek, with a population of about 2 thousand people, most of which are either engaged in agriculture or works in the capital.

In the village work a little bit: a small sewing shop, an eco farm and cold storage warehouses. Damir studied at Manager of organizations, but after graduation have not found jobs and started takava��s.

to Earn in Russia mostly from the countryside, where he lives to 72% of the total population of 6.5 million of Kyrgyzstan.

According for 2019, the fifth part of the population is below the poverty line (20.1 per cent; in Russia, for comparison, — 13%). This means that 1.3 million Kyrgyz citizens live on less than one dollar a day. And if not for the remittances, according to estimates of the National statistics Committee, in extreme poverty have lived for more than 30% of the population.

According to various estimates, in Russia live and work 600 thousand to a million Kyrgyz citizens. Their remittances account for about one third of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP and almost equal to all budget revenues.

But in 2020, the volume of migrant remittances has been steadily declining: according to the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan, in the first quarter, the drop was 19%, and in April — more than three times, reaching the lowest level in the last three years.

With the loss of work and income faced and other dependent from migrants ‘ countries of the region. According to Uzbek authorities, returned home nearly half a million Uzbeks, in Tajikistan from the reduction of remittances will hurt thousands of families.

According to the world Bank, remittances worldwide will be reduced due pandemic coronavirus 20%, and in Central Asia with almost 28%. For Kyrgyzstan, which is more of its neighbors dependent on remittances, it threatens to increase poverty.

As a rule, Kyrgyz migrants go to work hoping to save up for something beyond daily expenses — house, car, wedding or anniversary, and sometimes a funeral.

Often their families take the loan, expecting that relative-worker earn to repay the loan. According to the National Bank loan is every fifth adult citizen in the country, or an average of every family.

the 45-year-old Gulnura came to Moscow two years ago to repay a Bank loan taken by a spouse for the construction of a private house.

they had to lay another house, where they live, their five children and the husband’s parents. But issued by the Bank was only enough money for the purchase of land and the Foundation — the rest, plus mortgage payments, Gulnura covers with his Moscow salaries.

Sending money home before quarantine for two months she is out of work. The debt on the loan grows, and if she can’t repay the debt, the family may lose their home.

“I’m not from the good life I left my children and came here, says Gulnura. — My husband — the invalid of the second group, the unemployed, the house of the parents according to tradition, will go to his younger brother (in Kyrgyzstan is the youngest son gets the house in the inheritance, because he lives with his parents in starosti — Bi-bi-si). When we decided to build a house and took out a loan, it has been decided that I’m going to work”.

Her husband receives unemployment benefits — 650 soms a month, or less than nine dollars. A small pension (up to 12 thousand soms, almost $ 180) get it parents, plus the family has a small farm — they keep chickens and a few sheep.

“So nobody’s starving,” says Gulnura, recognizing, however, that children continue wearing the clothes for each other and for my husband’s treatment of money is often not enough.

In Kyrgyzstan Gulnura worked as a Bank teller; moved to Moscow, she got a job in a Bank as a cleaner. Then she lost at the beginning of the quarantine restrictions when most of the employees sent a “udalenka”.

For three months she never managed to get to another place.

As noted by the world Bank, migrants — one of the most vulnerable groups to the pandemic has been subjected to discrimination and xenophobia. They are the first to lose their jobs and from of lack of legal status is often limited in obtaining social benefits, including health care. Unfavorable living conditions increase the risk of Contracting the virus.

“We were 15 people in a three room apartment on the outskirts of Moscow: the family with five children in one room and four in the other. In our apartment all been ill this spring, I have been with fever for almost a week. We feared, of course, that it could be the coronavirus, but the ambulance was afraid to even call,” says Gulnura.

According to her, the doctors checked the migrants the registration, and since many don’t, it can lead to problems.

Gulnura said that if they knew in advance of a pandemic, it would never have left children. Her youngest recently turned four years, the last time she had seen him before leaving two years ago.

According to UNICEF, due labour migration, about 12% of children in Kyrgyzstan are living without one or both parents.

Kyrgyzstan is still positioning itself as a government-donor workforce, says the study, published in the Central Asian Bureau of analytical journalism.

Labour migration to compensate for the lack of jobs in the country, and remittances due borders contribute to reducing poverty.

“I Live in Kyrgyzstan, most likely, my salary would only be enough for himself. And who live in Kyrgyzstan for yourself? We still live in large families and we care about each other,” — says Gulzada, who went to Russia 15 years ago. During this time she helped my mother build a small house and paid for his studies at the University of one of the brothers.

From quarantine Gulzada lost his job and not��sent nothing home for two months. Despite this, she plans to stay in Moscow — recently, she finally managed to obtain Russian citizenship.

a Large part of remittances sent to Kyrgyzstan from Russia. Despite the strong economic dependence on them, the Kyrgyz authorities consider labour migration “part of the national development strategy”, follows from the concept of migration policy of the country.

the Pandemic has demonstrated the vulnerability of such a strategy: according to the Kyrgyz Embassy in Russia, more than half of Kyrgyz migrants have lost their jobs and some of them will be forced to return home. Now in Kyrgyzstan, according to official data, returned 10 thousand citizens and more than 11 thousand requested. All, according to some projections, going back 100-200 thousand people, which would be difficult to find a job at home.

In the absence of wage Damir spent on rent Moscow apartments the remainder from the sale of the machine on which it taksovat in Bishkek. Apart from him there lived another 14 people: previously they worked in shifts, and at the same time the house was no more than six people. To quarantine almost all of them remained without work.

anxiously he thought about the family. “Because of the quarantine Baltika stopped working public transport, relatives could not even to the grocery store or pharmacy to go, — says Damir. The father could not go for the insulin products of the money is already beginning to miss, I at this time still I want to be with them and not sit in Moscow without work.”

Damir was returning home when the flights between Kyrgyzstan and Russia was already stopped. As several hundred of his countrymen, he decided to try his luck in the Russian-Kazakhstan border Sol ‘ -Iletsk. About 600 Kyrgyz migrants have arrived in Orenburg oblast, when the Diaspora began to walk the rumor that soon there will open the border. In the end, they had a few weeks to wait in the camp, and some were forced to stay in the field and even under the bridge.

two weeks Later his bus was moved to Kyrgyzstan, where he immediately was placed in observation. Damir test for coronavirus were negative, and soon let him go home to isolate themselves.

“Quarantine is over and I will soon start looking for work — his car I sold, taksovat will not happen. But I’m young and will take on any job, of course, difficult times”, — optimistically says Damir.

the Economic forecast for Kyrgyzstan are less optimistic: according to the Ministry of economy, at the end of the year, the country will face the sharpest decline in GDP in the region — up to minus 5.3 percent.

Nargiza Ryskulova
Bi-bi-si, Bishkek