Covid-19: Increasing misuse of govt provision to migrate to islands for vacationing

Maldivian flight at Velana International Airport | Photo: Maldivian

Male’, Maldives – Local media Adhadhu reports from a local Council President that many people are misusing the government provision provided to travel to islands for migration or for necessary purposes, to travel for the holidays.

The Local Council President said that they have already given approval for over 50 families to travel to that island either for migration or other necessary purposes. He added that they later find out through unofficial sources that the families are travelling for the annual holidays.

The government has currently placed restrictions in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic to prevent people from travelling to other islands for holidays. However, the government allows for people to migrate or travel for other necessary purposes. These include health emergencies, loss of job and migrating back to islands after completion of education or completion of the purpose for which they came to the capital city.

Those who want to travel for the above mentioned purposes are to get approval from their local council authorities. These councils report the increased amount of applications to travel to the respective islands. The councils also express concern over their inability to verify documents submitted by the applicants saying that they are moving out of their current residences.

Most of the people travelling to islands are having to travel by air as big boats no longer carry out such journeys, as an unexpected incident may lead to the isolation of the entire boat. The national airline Maldivian, travelling to all the destinations nation wide, also informed of their increased number of travelers travelling to other countries this holiday. Media Director of the company Moosa Waseem said to local media Adhadhu that the number of passengers traveling via the airline has increased to all parts of the country, specially highlighting the passengers travelling for Male’ to other islands.

Commissioner of Quality Assurance at the Health Ministry Thasleema Usman said that they are issuing permits to everyone submitting relevant documents and that they have no way to verify the documents.

There is an increasing number of Covid-19, including multiple deaths recorded from the islands in May 2021. The misuse of the migration and necessary travel provisions to travel from the capital to islands is alarming.

The government in early 2021, decided to give a special allowance of MVR 3000 to move back to their islands. Several people have taken this opportunity to move back to their islands as well. The regulations state that recipients of the aid must be a Maldivian national who has at least one child below the age of 18 and must be willing to want to move to another island, but be facing difficulties to do so. Additionally, the requirements also state that they should have living arrangements finalized, or be able to finalize living arrangements, as well as receive a monthly income less than the amount set by the National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) for poor income individuals.

According to the regulations, those who apply and are granted financial assistance under this regulation would required to be put on a registry, which would have be managed by the Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services. Apart from this, the Ministry would also be required to monitor the status of those who receive aid, for a period of one year.

The Ministry had previously stated that MVR 26.7 million has been allocated for the purpose of island migration.