Covid-19 Travel Ban Keeps Family Members In Different Countries Apart For Too Long

The Covid-19 travel ban has caused different groups to struggle in their daily lives. One group is people in transnational families, who need to cross borders to see their loved ones.

Travel restrictionsSource

Several of them have written to the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) to share about their predicaments.

Caregivers can’t cross borders to support their loved ones

In a Facebook post yesterday (1 Sep), AWARE shared snippets of letters they had received from members of transnational families.

Andrew, 75, told them that his Vietnamese wife can only see him for 9 months a year, in 3-month stretches.

He shares that he is suffering from various ailments such as intestinal blockage and eye issues. Therefore, he completely relies on his wife for care and support.

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The couple has been attempting to secure a long-term visitor pass from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), even reaching out to Members of Parliament for help.

However, their efforts have been in vain. Andrew pleads in the letter,

“If I die, I would just like to see my wife one last time and tell her how much I love her.”

Some couples finding it hard to start a family

Other families are unable to take root because of the limitations of a short-term visiting pass.

In her email to AWARE, Sarah expresses her difficulties with starting a family.

Quote from email to AWARE about travel banSource

With her husband unable to secure a long-term visit pass, their dream of starting their own little family is an uncertain one.

Other families torn between countries

A woman who wanted to be known as Lin, shared her dilemma with AWARE.

Lin says that she has a mother who needs care in Singapore while her husband may have to go back to his home country as he is on a short-term visit pass.

Quote from email to AWARE about travel banSource

Tied to her responsibilities here and unable to secure her husband’s stay in Singapore, we can only imagine how torn she must feel.

Covid-19 is a big barrier to overcome

According to AWARE, ICA had responded to their earlier letter, saying that they consider Covid-19 implications when extending visit passes.

Travellers wearing face masks

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However, AWARE claims that ICA didn’t elaborate on how they arrived at such decisions.

AWARE appeals to ICA for compassion

In the Facebook post, AWARE appeals to ICA for leniency in travel restrictions.

AWARE Facebook post about ICA travel banSource

This is for those who are dependent on family members residing overseas, or are on short-term visitor passes.

If their appeals get rejected, AWARE asks that ICA explains why, so parties affected will have some form of clarity.

Blood is thicker than water

It’s said that blood is thicker than water but for some, water separates them from loved ones.

While we understand that stringent travel bans are in place to ensure safety, they may be huge obstacles for people who need to cross borders for family.

Let’s hope that the authorities will be able to address this issue, and help those in desperate need of assistance.

Featured image adapted from Prothom Alo.