Homebound: Travelling for the holidays
In Issue 13, Routed Magazine shares stories from far and wide about people on the move during the holidays. From all corners of the world migrants seek to return home for important holidays such as the Chinese New Year, Christmas or Eid al-Fitr. As this year draws to a close, many of us are looking to spend time with family and other loved ones as we hope to put the turbulence of 2020 behind us. But the effects of the pandemic are ongoing, and in some places they are peaking, just as we reach the time of year most yearn to return home.
This issue explores some of the myriad examples of people struggling to return home, as governments’ efforts to maintain public health have extensive repercussions. In South Africa, COVID-19 has impacted the holiday travel plans of Nigerian migrants wishing to join in the celebrations back home. The efforts of foreign ministry personnel in the Philippines have helped to ensure that hundreds of thousands of their compatriots could return home since the beginning of the pandemic. In Canada, residents have experienced months of tight restrictions, including on internal mobility, limiting freedom of movement for everyone, from the ‘snowbirds’, to migrant workers, to international students. COVID-19 may be altering the decisions of the Indian diasporan youth, as they journey to and from the homeland. In Norway, social media activism has fought back against unequal border closures due to the pandemic, but may not be enough to enable families to spend Christmas together.
Meanwhile, other groups of people have long faced restricted movement. The plight of Venezuelan migrants exposes a gap in the global protection system, with mechanisms and definitions not fit for purpose; refugees require protection, but why can’t this come with the option of returning home for short visits? Foreign domestic workers play a crucial role in the economic and social life of Hong Kong, yet are frequently prevented from returning home due to lack of funds, difficult employers and other reasons. Skilled migrants in Germany likewise face complicated decisions when returning home to Brazil for holidays.
As we bring you this final issue for 2020, we wish all our readers a happy and healthy end to the year, and hope you find these diverse perspectives thought-provoking. Thanks as always to our writers for sharing their stories and research. Please share the issue far and wide!