COVID-19 Faces of Migration – Story of Ruslan (age 45), returnee from Greece
Ruslan spent his whole life in village Matani, Kakheti region in Eastern Georgia.
He lives there with his two sons, aged 23 and 22. Ruslan is good at his job – he is a construction worker, he can build, grind walls, and install tiles. When he was younger, he traveled a lot, trying to find better opportunities abroad. He worked in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. After 10 years of working in the field of construction in Georgia, he decided to try his luck once more. This time, he chose Greece – he had some acquaintances there he could count on. However, finding a well-paid job in Greece without a work permit and knowledge of Greek turned out to be harder than he thought.
Ruslan spent 1.5 years working without a permit at a construction site in Greece. He worked 15 days a month and was paid low wage of EUR 40 per day for a job, which would be paid three times more if done with a work permit. Sometimes, he was not even reimbursed at all and there was nothing he could do about it. Because of his irregular stay and lack of language skills, Ruslan has few positive memories of his time in Greece.
In March 2020 Ruslan decided to return home to his family. He missed them and was tired of feeling like a stranger in a foreign country. He returned in March 2020, in the time of COVID-19 and had to stay in self-isolation for 14 days. Every day for these two weeks police and nurse visited his home to make sure that Ruslan was not violating the terms of self-isolation. With IOM’s support he managed to start a cattle breeding business, which he is now trying to expand.
Nearly all countries worldwide have enforced travel/movement restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19. Measures such as border closures, curfews and internal lockdowns have had wide-ranging implications for both local population and third country migrants, leaving many unable to return to their countries/areas of origin or to reach their intended destinations. Some had to endure many challenges to return home in the time of pandemic. Many migrant workers in different parts of the world are unable to return home, stuck in their countries/areas of work without employment.
In various parts of the world IOM is assisting thousands of migrants who have been affected by movement restrictions and are unable to work or return home.