Migrants during the 2020 pandemic: no work, no freedom, no way to return home

On International Migrants Day, 18 December, it is important to highlight the problems which foreigners faced in Russia during the pandemic in 2020. They include not only loss of income and difficulties with a return to the homeland, but also unacceptable long terms of imprisonment in the deportation centers (Centers for Temporary Detention of Foreigners – CTDFs).

Regardless of the special presidential decree No 274, which temporarily prohibited administrative expulsions due to closed borders, the courts continued to recognize foreigners as “non grata”. Detention in CTDFs of persons facing expulsions lasted for migrants much longer than usual, because the flights were canceled and foreigners were not expelled. In this way, many citizens of Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova have spent 9 months in CTDFs. As a result, many CTDFs are overcrowded that increased the risk of transmission of COVID-19 among the detainees. Together with that, the conditions for medical assistance in these centers are lacking: first aid kits are designed only for urgent medical assistance, while hospitalization is permitted only under risk to life.

Human Rights Defenders repeatedly demanded to release all the migrants from CTDFs during the pandemic and take measures to protect their lives and health, and to facilitate their return to homelands. These requirements are still actual.