Mongolia is a vast country in East Asia that is currently facing an unprecedented domestic crisis due to Covid-19. While the country boasts an excellent covid record with only around 1,710 cases and two deaths to date, the harsh restrictions and strict lockdowns have severely impacted the livelihood of millions of Mongolians.
Mongolia has restricted travel even on its citizens, who are only allowed to enter the nation on select flights after almost 35 days of quarantine. Many Mongolian citizens who live or work aboard have found themselves stuck, unable to return home easily. On top of this, the country has kept schools shut for almost a year now, impacting education and taking the livelihood of thousands of kids away. Lockdowns have forced small businesses that many locals rely on for income to be shut, and compared to western countries, government financial support is nearly nonexistent.
Hunger and poverty have skyrocketed due to harsh covid restrictions, and Mongolian herders have had to donate sheep to urban cities to feed impoverished neighborhoods. On January 20th, protestors took to the streets to protest the lackluster healthcare system, harsh travel restrictions, and severe lockdowns that have forced many citizens to sleep hungry. The protestors were further fueled by the mistreatment of a mother and her newborn baby while being transferred to a Covid Facility. The Mongolian Prime Minister resigned due to these widespread protests and hospital scandals.
The Prime minister’s shock resignation has led to an unstable scenario in a country facing impending economic woes and domestic unrest. The PM’s resignation can be interpreted as an easy way to escape the accountability and responsibility behind his decisions.
However, there is some good news to look forward to. The mining sector has bounced back since August, spearheading the economic recovery effort and boosting coal exports to China. The Bank of Mongolia has also taken an initiative to extend maturities on consumer and mortgage loans, along with a restructuring of business loans to try and reduce the pressure on banks and borrowers. Mongolia has also projected a 6% economic expansion for 2021, marking a slow but steady road to economic recovery. While there is much to look forward to, domestic lockdowns have led to profound negative impacts on consumer confidence and demand. In an atmosphere of economic and political uncertainty, it remains to be seen whether Mongolia can adhere to its democratic principles while paving the road for a prosperous economy.