Dali Makes the Most of A Surreal Situation

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In November 2019 Dali returned to Georgia after spending 14 years of her life in Greece. Like many others, she left with the aim to help her family overcome financial hardships and pay for her three children’s education. In Greece Dali lived in a town by the sea. In addition to her job as a housekeeper, she used her home economics teacher’s skills and was sewing and selling beach dresses and clothes.

Thanks to her hard work she managed to start a vineyard and her family also harvested nuts and ran a grocery store. Feeling more-or-less financially stable, at the age of 60 Dali returned home with IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration support. As part of her reintegration assistance she purchased a sewing machine and started working as a dressmaker. However, like others, Dali’s financial stability was affected by COVID-19. She adapted quickly though - she switched to sewing bedding and medical masks and received an order from a local clinic. She has already produced 1,000 medical masks and 50 bed sets.

Even after the world overcomes COVID-19-related restrictions, Dali plans to continue her life in Georgia. "I might still visit Greece, but this time, as a tourist", she smiles.

IOM Georgia is assessing the likely needs in the current and post-pandemic context, focusing on the re-integration and livelihood needs of returning Georgian migrants, as well as the needs of households and communities dependent on the now diminished flow of remittances from family members abroad. It is using its social media channels to provide updated multilingual information on COVID-19 and available services to over 4,000 people and provides continuous online counselling services to stranded Georgian migrants.

Groups of migrants similar to Dali have been returning home from Greece, the Netherlands and Switzerland with  the help of IOM and Georgian embassies. After quarantine, IOM is following up on post arrival assistance for them, including employment support, access to medical services, and accommodation.  .

The Georgia mission continues to provide reintegration assistance to vulnerable returned migrants, concentrating on providing services and financial assistance to those most vulnerable and those with medical needs. The Mission is providing counselling and cash assistance to 20 vulnerable third country nationals in Georgia before voluntary return to their countries of origin can take place.

Sixty per cent of migrants surveyed by IOM and NGO partners were not aware that COVID-19 testing and treatment would be free/available for them in Georgia in case of experiencing symptoms. The most acute needs identified result from loss of income. Among the most vulnerable are migrants engaged in sex work who face significant barriers to receiving medical care or accessing government services.