Remittances to Moldova are falling dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as migrants lose overseas jobs and return home, a new IOM survey has revealed. At the same time, their skills and saving could prove a boon for Europe’s poorest country.
Moldova is heavily remittance-dependent, with an estimated 16 per cent of GDP in 2019 coming from money migrants send home. It is a crucial source for day-to-day survival for thousands of families, and a major enabler of development.
In the report, issued this week, IOM Moldova estimates that 150,000 labour migrants will return in 2020, which represents 10 per cent of the domestic Moldovan working population, contributing to a rise in unemployment up to 8.5 per cent by the end of 2020. The online survey also found that close to half of overseas Moldovans have lost their jobs and stopped sending money home. One in four have problems paying for accommodation.
On the positive side, only nine per cent of potential returnees thought they would need social assistance, when they got home, whereas around 24 per cent plan to invest in businesses. Almost half believe they would be bringing home new skills and find or create work in Moldova.
Over a quarter of those wishing to return plan to re-migrate once restrictions are lifted and the receiving countries provide new job opportunities.
IOM’s Chief of Mission in Moldova, Lars Johan Lönnback, told a United Nations Taskforce on the socio-economic impact on COVID-19 in Moldova that there were grounds for optimism and positivity:
“Our survey shows that far from returning penniless, Moldovan migrants who are forced to repatriate because of COVID-19 should be cherished as a boon for the development of their home country, not stigmatized. Many will come back to stay and invest their savings and put their acquired skills to use.”
IOM’s survey recommends support strategies for returning migrants, such as counselling, services for business start-ups, vocational training, career guidance, and services for validation and certification of informal skills gained abroad.
The study reached 1,186 Moldovan migrants, through online questionnaires and semi-structured interviews conducted between 17 April and 17 May 2020, covering the 10 main host countries - Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, Poland, Russian Federation, and Israe. These countries are home on a permanent or temporary basis to 80 per cent of all Moldovan migrants (around 1 million of Moldovans were residing abroad in 2019 according to UNDESA.)
This research is the part of a series of surveys on Moldova’s migration patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic. The next survey will be dedicated to the situation of returnees in Moldova and remittance dependent families.
The diaspora survey report in EN/RO can be downloaded from links below.
For further information please contact Vitalie Varzari of IOM Moldova on email@example.com