Monday, April 27, 2020

‘No Money, No Food and No Work’ – Central Asian Immigrant Workers in Russia Increasingly Desperate

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 25 – The combination of the pandemic and the economic crisis has left Central Asians who have come to the Russian Federation to earn money in an increasingly disastrous situation. Many can’t return home because of travel restrictions, but at the same time, in Russia, they are “without money, without food and without work,” some of them say.

            There are a small number of Russian organizations trying to help them, but the demand far exceeds what they can offer.  Darya Prishva, head of the HostelService, says her facility can  handle only abut 300 people but has been forced to turn away many more (

            Requests come not only from the immigrants themselves who have lost their jobs and have no money to get any other kind of housing but also from the embassies of the countries from which they come. Her institution charges a minimal fee to cover costs. Sometime the immigrants pay it, but often the money comes from the embassies.

            Many of her “guests” have no money for food and go to various charitable organizations like The House of Kindness to get a single meal a day.  Prishva says she and her colleagues are committed to helping the immigrants so that they are not forced to turn to crime in order to feed themselves and their families.

            The immigrants continue to look for work and often find it for short periods, and she hopes that the new law eliminating many of the requirements for patents will make that process easier. But the situation is dire, and it remains uncertain how long the embassies will be able to support their unemployed citizens in Russia.

            Not surprisingly, many of the immigrants look to the future “with fear” especially since those who are able to get into the hostels are the lucky ones. Far more are on the street, and even more of their relatives in their homelands have been dependent on cash transfers the immigrants can no longer send (

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