With Ireland imposing a lockdown in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus, hundreds of Indian nationals stuck in the country are seeking to return home.
Ireland has put restrictions to slow down the rate of admission to intensive care units as the number of positive cases increased over 2200 with 22 deaths.
Sukanya Rajan (24), a resident of Delhi-NCR, recently completed MSc in Molecular Medicine from Trinity College in Dublin and as she was looking for a job, the pandemic hit her prospects.
Like Sukanya, several other Indian nationals in Dublin and other parts of Ireland are running out of money to help themselves as they are not eligible for any compensation from the Irish government. Most of them are staying in the country on a job-seeking visa.
Speaking to Mumbai Mirror Online, she says, “I had left my previous part-time job a while ago to look for a better one. I had interviews scheduled after a lot of effort and time, and finally, things were seeming hopeful. However, due to the current situation, all my interviews and recruitment got canceled. I am left unemployed.”
“I am not eligible for any sort of compensation or payment from the Irish government. I can’t find a job as no companies are recruiting anymore,” she said, adding, “The rent and cost of living are very high here, and I am struggling to manage. I am afraid that I am going to exhaust all my savings,” she added.
Another Indian National Avneesh Singh (32), a native of Uttarakhand is staying in the country on an extended visa and he too is running out of money.
“I am running out of money to support myself. I don’t have a job. I also have to pay rent. I have applied for a pandemic unemployment payment, but I have not heard anything from the government. My family is already worried. I can’t even ask my father who is old to send me money,” says Singh.
Singh says that the Modi-led government should have given them at least a week’s time to return before suspending flight operations. “The Air India plane is bringing back Indians from other parts. I request the government to make arrangements for us. I am ready to get quarantined at my own expense. At least I will be home.”
One of the major concerns for most of the students who are studying and doing a part-time job is paying rent as they have no work to support themselves in the lockdown.
Hariharan S, a resident from Navi Mumbai has recently completed his studies from Trinity College and had been doing a part-time job, but now he too is worried about making ends meet.
“I was working part-time, but now no one is hiring permanently in my sector. I am struggling financially and emotionally. Paying rent is a major concern. If the rent is made affordable and if we get some financial support, it can help us.”
Sukanya says that her parents have taken education loans for her and she doesn’t want to ask them for more financial support. “I can’t come back to India anytime soon because of lockdowns and concerns of the virus spreading. Sustaining myself here without any support is getting harder day by day.”
Some Indian nationals also say that they feel unsafe as the locals are not taking things seriously and the number of cases are increasing. They also claimed that no medical shops have sanitizers and masks are available at only a few shops.
Nirav Vichare, a resident of Mumbai who is in Dublin for his MBA Project Management says, “It doesn’t feel safe right now than being at home in India. Several people have appealed to the Indian Embassy to arrange some flights to take us back. Whereas we are all worried and avoiding going out because people here are not taking anything seriously.”
Vichare also appealed to Indians to stay at home and cooperate with the government to eradicate the virus.
“Please stop going out so the virus spread is controlled, lockdown ends and we can come back home too to be with our family.”
Meanwhile, in a video message to the Indian community, Indian Ambassador Sandeep Kumar has said, “Covid-19 is an unprecedented crisis, which requires collective community action and exceptional civic responsibility. I appeal to all members to strictly adhere to the national policy guidelines which are for our security.
He also said that they have formed community support groups in partnership with key members representing diverse fields who have volunteered to assist the local community.
The Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has urged people to stay home, appealing to every man, woman, and child to make the sacrifice for the love of each other.
“We all have a part to play in rising to this challenge,” he said, in a tweet.
This story was first published in Mumbai Mirror