The impact of COVID-19 on the well-being of Moldovan migrants: how can we respond to current challenges?
The Institute for European Policies and Reforms, in partnership with the Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the Republic of Moldova, Privesc.Eu and with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation, organized on Tuesday, 21st of July, 2020, the seventh #EUDebatesCafe videoconference in online regime, dedicated to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the welfare of Moldovan migrants.
The speakers of the event referred to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on migrant workers in the Republic of Moldova. In particular, the discussion focused on the repercussions of the current crisis on the seasonal and/or long-term emigration regime of Moldovan citizens, the assistance/employment actions implemented by the Moldovan authorities for the returned migrants and the impact of COVID-19 on the remittances sector.
Below we propose some of the main interventions of the speakers.
Lars Johan Lönnback, Head of the IOM Mission to the Republic of Moldova: “Between April 17 and May 17, 2020, we conducted a survey with Moldovan migrants settled in ten countries. Thus, over 80% of migrants responded that they are affected by COVID-19. Almost 50% lost their jobs, many lost their income, but also their housing, because they did not have the money to pay for them. 80% reported decreases in remittances sent to the country, over 40% said they stopped sending money home. 30% of migrants intended to return to the Republic of Moldova when travel restrictions were to be lifted. The good part is that about 40% of those who return will bring skills and even investments in the Republic of Moldova. Migration dynamics will remain strong for countries such as Moldova. Human mobility will take place under different conditions than before, and health and mobility protocols must be implemented for this. At the same time, in order to respond to the problems faced by Moldovan migrants, ways must be found to reach to the diaspora, to understand its needs and how members of the diaspora can be involved in the development of the country”.
Ana Gherganova, Head of the Directorate for Occupational Policy and Migration Regulation, Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection (MSMPS): “The statistics of the Republic of Moldova do not yet speak about a major impact of COVID-19 on the labor market. Here I am referring to the main employment indicators on the labor market for the first quarter. We realize that the impact of this crisis will still be felt more strongly, especially towards the end of the year. As a Ministry, we have made some forecasts regarding the impact of the pandemic crisis on the labor market and I want to tell you that we expect a 10% decrease in the employment rate in the Republic of Moldova and the number of employed population and, at the same time, to an increase of at least 11% of the inactive population. We assume that these 11% of the inactive population will increase especially at the expense of those who will return from abroad, but also at the expense of those in the Republic of Moldova who have lost their jobs. Thus, we expect a doubling of the unemployment rate in the country”.
Nadejda Zubco, Deputy Head, Diaspora Relations Bureay: “The IOM’s rapid assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the welfare of the Moldovan migrants highlights the vulnerable categories of migrants, their needs and expectations, which allows us and local public authorities to have a real picture of the current situation. At the same time, it offers us some leverage in setting new goals focused on the needs of migrants. Thus, we understood that a first step we must take is to strengthen the diaspora information process. The priority for the next months of 2020 remains the elaboration of a new supporting document for the citizens who intend to return home”.
Raisa Dogaru, Director, National Agency for Employment (ANOFM): “ANOFM in the first six months of the year registered a number of over 900 migrants who returned and applied to the services of the agency (62% men, 38% % women). Of these people, over 100 were employed during this period. Among the problems previously faced by migrants who benefited to the agency’s services, were the lack of well-paid jobs, health and social problems. Statistics show that 45% of them have a profession and could be capitalized in certain areas on the labor market in the Republic of Moldova. Thus, the task of the national agency is to capitalize on the potential of returned migrants, in accordance with their competencies. In addition, we must take into account the fact that migrants have certain financial reserves, which could channelled in the direction of the business sector”.
Dorina Roșca, President, European Institute for Development Studies (Paris): “Beyond the problems and dramas generated by the medical crisis, I believe that the pandemic allows us to learn some lessons and gives the opportunity to create new institutions which might come and respond to the problems that this crisis highlights. And if we talk about migration, this crisis highlights the fact that we, in the large group of the diaspora, have these circular migrants who are, in fact, the most fragile category. This should encourage us to think of policies that are consistent with these realities and that are particularly focused on circular migrants, who are also the most important carriers of both financial and social resources. I think we could go further today and think of some measures to build a social protection fund for these migrants, which could also be financed by them”.
For more details you can watch the video recording of the event here.
The event was organized within the project “EU DEBATES CAFÉ: Advancing knowledge and expertise on EU institutions and policies in the Republic of Moldova”, implemented by IPRE in cooperation with the Hanns Seidel Foundation in the Republic of Moldova and with the financial support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.