Tajikistan Coronavirus (COVID-19) 21 April 2020 – An Update From Barnabas Coronavirus Emergency Network

From a pastor

“April 9 heavy snow hit Tajikistan and destroyed significant part of vegetables and fruits harvest throughout the country. Snow and squally wind broke trees, crushed greenhouses, and night frost killed future fruitage. Snow got about 30% of trees on the ground, a decrease in temperature at night led to the loss of the harvest of cherries, apple trees and other fruit trees.

“Food prices (potatoes, flour, butter, cereals, eggs, sugar and others) increased several times. Salaries and pensions remained at the same level. Many lost their jobs after being dismissed.

“Two member countries of the Eurasian Economic Union – Russia and Kazakhstan - they are the main trading partners of Tajikistan. From these two countries the most socially important goods and products are imported into our republic. For example, actually total volume of petroleum products is imported from the «Eurasian five», more than 90% of which goes from Russia. Also other priority products and the most important medicines and equipment are delivered from this country. Almost all the flour and wheat, as well as liquefied gas, on which more than 60% transport works, are imported from Kazakhstan. Generally, according to official Tajik data statistics, member countries of Eurasian economic Union took about 55% in total imports of Tajikistan for two months of this year. And, of course, when the Alliance countries restrict exports Tajikistan may face a shortage of products imported from these countries, and as a result, its cost will increase.

“Donor countries have reduced the size of humanitarian assistance for Tajikistan almost five times. This also worsens the situation in the country.

“The state has introduced a ban for religious meetings in mosques and churches to counteract the coronavirus. Christians can’t get together to pray, read the Bible and support each other. There are a lot of poor people in our church, whom the church has been helping. After the introduction of restrictive measures donation collecting in churches reduced, as many believers lose their jobs. The church is not able to help all the needy.

“Air connection and any other transport links with other countries are blocked, and also in other countries (mostly in Russia) where our compatriots work to send money to their families. They lost their jobs too because of the introduction of restrictive measures against coronavirus. And now they can't earn money to send them to their families to Tajikistan. And many families were left without livelihoods. It is very hard to find a job in the country itself, and given recent events it is utterly difficult.

“We have a biblical teaching to support each other. Especially, when the situation around us becomes difficult. Church gatherings are prohibited, and online- availability is very low in our country. In villages the Internet exists conditionally. We can make online-broadcasting of the worship services, but 70-80% of believers will not be able to participate in online broadcasts. Therefore restriction to meet will hit hard on our local churches, or rather to say, it will hit people.”