For migrants in Russia, virus means no money to live and no way to leave

By Ivan Nechapurenko and Sergy Ponomarev

Migrant workers from Central Asia, shrugging off the risk of coronavirus infection, have gathered in groups each day outside their countries’ embassies in Moscow, banging on doors and fences and shouting for officials to come out and tell them when they can finally get on a charter flight home.

With regular flights canceled, charters offer the only feasible way out for the more than 5 million migrant workers from former Soviet republics now stranded in Russia as a result of the pandemic, with many living in increasingly dire circumstances.

While Russia has been battered by the virus, with the third most cases in the world after the United States and Brazil, the crisis has hit migrant workers especially hard, as they were the first to lose their jobs and often the last to receive medical help.

Many have no money for food and, once infected with the coronavirus, have been left in crowded dorms to fight the disease by themselves. Many would like to return to their countries.

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