In 2020, remigration workers provided assistance with returning to 1,023 people. A year earlier, there were 656 people, and in 2018, 399 people. The total numbers are higher, as not all people use the support of the coordinators.
Longing for Latvia in Denmark
A few months before the news of the spread of the new coronavirus took over the world, Zaļina Višņakova from the Sala municipality returned from Denmark to Latvia.
“My reason is family, it's a priority, and that's why I live next to my parents. It's too far to live abroad. How much of your parents do you see going there and back every year? And you miss your family,” Višņakova said.
Zaļina returned to Latvia in August 2019. Before that, she lived in Denmark, Vejle, for five years. She headed a Latvian-Danish choir, and when the choir came to Latvia for the Song and Dance Celebration, she found that she wanted to return.
Although a few months after returning all the restrictions came on, she is pleased and satisfied to be back home. Her children are studying at a local school. Zaļina managed to settle in a job quickly as a music teacher and choir leader.
“Those people who have thoughts to come back, they long after Latvia. And they had not left because they wanted to leave, but because there were some circumstances that lead to it,” said Zaļina.
Return after 17 years in Ireland
Following a 17-year-long absence in Ireland, it was the Covid-19 pandemic that gave the push to return to Latvia – said a mother of three children from Valmiera. The thoughts of returning have been there for a long time, but due to various circumstances, this decision was postponed until the whole family moved to Latvia last September.
The family wants to remain anonymous. They also acknowledge that partly the return was also boosted by health problems and the limited chances of getting to doctors in Ireland.
“As Covid-19 started, it was bad with health tests, we had to check our health because of health problems. You can get to doctors here, but over there nothing is going on,” the woman said.
Returning with the second outbreak of the pandemic has not been an obstacle or a burden to settle in the new place of residence and to get children in educational establishments. It is true that, since all three children were born in Ireland, they had already started kindergarten and school there, remote learning is currently a little problematic. Even though the children can speak and write Latvian, there are still very simple Latvian words that are heard for the first time.
Only a few months have passed since they moved to Latvia, and whatever the situation is, the family is satisfied with the choice made. The return was somewhat relieved by the fact that they had their own property. If it had to be rented, it would have been financially difficult to pay rent and utility payments with Latvian salaries.
1,023 people were helped with remigration
Last year, due to the spread of Covid-19 in the world, many were facing the question what to do next: stay in their current home country or go back to Latvia. There was confusion and uncertainty over whether existing jobs will remain, worries about travel restrictions introduced in the first outbreak of Covid-19, concerns about the health of their and their families.
Looking at last year's statistics, Raivis Bremšmits, representative of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM), concluded that for many who had thought of returning to Latvia, perhaps the pandemic only accelerated this decision.
"In 2020, 1,023 people returned through the support of the coordinators, compared to 656 in 2019, 399 in 2018. What we see is quite pronounced, if it could be said, wave of remigrants over the summer period. It suggests that those who work abroad come to Latvia in the summer, and most likely a large part simply chose to stay here," Bremšmits said.
The Ministry added that since the remigration officers have started to work in the regions, it has also facilitated the return of Latvians to their home. More information is available, and coordinators also help to address individual issues on both job and educational opportunities, places of residence and other issues.
“We actually have an increase of returnees through these coordinators every year, so the quality of work is certainly improving. Our observation is also that cooperation with municipalities is only getting better,” Bremšmits said.
One of the most frequent reasons for the return decision is that children must start school and their parents want the child to grow and learn in a Latvian environment.
However, according to Anete Spalviņa, coordinator of remigration of the Zemgale Planning Region, last year has pushed some to return to Latvia because they had lost their jobs in their home country. Since many Latvians had travelled to Britain, Brexit has also contributed to the return from there.
Although more accurate statistics are currently known about those returning with the help of remigration officers, the total number of arrivals is higher, as many choose to manage on their own.