Déconfinements but borders sealed: wrenching situations for many families

Déconfinements mais frontières hermétiques: situations déchirantes pour bien des familles

TOKYO | When the father of Julie Sergeant’s death, she found herself in front of a cruel dilemma: to go to the funeral in France meant that she would no longer be permitted to return to his country of residence and work: Japan.

Across Asia, the containment measures put in place to combat the spread of the virus are being gradually phased out, but the borders remain firmly locked.

Several countries have banned access to their territory to non-nationals, or even purely and simply closed the borders, sometimes with dramatic consequences for those who live to tens of thousands of kilometres away from their family.

In Japan, the nationals can go in the archipelago, with a quarantine if they come from a high-risk area.

But foreign residents, including spouses of Japanese nationals or people with ancient ties with the country, such as the many Koreans in Japan for generations, can no longer access the territory, once out.

“I risked losing my job, my apartment and any source of income for a long time,” said Julie Sergeant, 29 years.

It has been said that she could try to get an exemption for humanitarian reasons, but, two days before the funeral, it was too late.

“One last time”

“My mother was devastated. I was the only one in the family to not be able to attend the funeral of my father. My brother and my sister have told me about how they had each written a little note on a piece of paper that they slipped into his jacket. And it me I have not been able to do it,” she said, voice broken to the AFP.

Yukari, who is half american, half japanese and lives in Tokyo with her husband japanese, and their son, nine years old, is in a similar situation.

But it does not have japanese nationality and at risk of being separated from her son and her husband if she goes to the United States, where his mother’s fight against terminal cancer.

“I’m her only immediate family. There is no other person (…) in the United States,” said the AFP Yukari, who does not want to be identified only by his first name.

Cancer of the biliary tract had been diagnosed in her mother’s home in march and in April, his doctor gave him only a few weeks or a few months to live.

Yukari had to appeal to friends of the family.

After a period where everything seemed to be able to switch from one moment to the other, the state of his mother, is stabilized while the cancer is still there.

“I talked to friends who help out there and one of them said to me +I think she clings for see you one last time+. It was hard to hear”.

Except humanitarian? –

Similar restrictions are in force in other parts of Asia, more stringent even in a country like Mongolia where even the nationals cannot return to the country, except by the few evacuation flights.

Nyamtseren Erdenetsetseg and her husband Sukhbaatar Dorj, are thus blocked in South Korea without the least idea of the day when they will regain their five children remained in Mongolia with their paternal grandmother.

The couple had gone to South Korea in January to be with the mother of Nyamtseren Erdenetsetseg, who lives in Seoul.

But on the 23rd of February, Mongolia has announced that it will ban entry into its territory from South Korea.

Then on may 3, the mother of Mr. Dorj is suddenly died, and his sister has collected the children from do not cease to ask their parents on the phone when they return. “I don’t want to give them hope for nothing,” said their mother.

China has relaxed its policy for some foreign companies.

In early June, the japanese government has indicated that some foreign residents “may be granted” exceptions for humanitarian reasons. A glimmer of hope of seeing her mother again to Yukari.

“I pray simply (…) to be able to go there and see her one last time.”

Share Button