Oyunaa Luvsan came to Hungary in February to study for a PhD as a mature student "in her 30s".
After a few weeks, her university studies went on-line because of the Coronavirus pandemic, since when she has been trying to return to her native Mongolia.
But her government has decreed that Mongolians seeking repatriation may only return on special accredited flights by the state carrier, Mongolian Airlines.
Because, she says, there have only been an average of two flights per month, she – along with another 240 compatriots – has been stranded in Hungary ever since.
Photo: Oyunaa in a solo protest against her government's policies on repatriation.
“I have wanted to go back to my country since March. I am a single mother with a 10-year old daughter. I left her with my elderly parents. I am also the one who looks after and supports my parents. My child misses me a lot since we have been stranded for 5 months,” she told Perspectives-Budapest earlier this week.
Those marooned in Hungary are just the tip of the iceberg. At the most recent count - reported by the Mongolian government - there are some 2,336 of its citizens marooned in Europe, and 10,600 world wide.
Inevitably, says Oyunaa, most are desperately short of money and many suffering from stress and mental health problems.
“We [have been] in despair since we [became] trapped in Europe 5 months ago. Many of these Mongolians were temporarily visiting as tourists, attending seminars and workshops, or visiting friends and relatives. They have no visas, no money, no job, no medical insurance and no support from our government at all,” she says.
Oyunaa started a facebook group to share information between those stranded and campaign for better treatment from the government in Ulaanbaatar.
"I wanted to help other Mongolians who suffer [from this] so I created a facebook page to
protest against the dysfunctional operation of our government," she says, adding “This is a shameful, even 'fascist' approach,”
Currently "crashing" at a friend's place, Oyunaa says she is "personally ok" when she compares her situation to many others in extreme difficulties in Europe, but admits to suffering from stress and sleeplessness, and is seeking medical help.
There is relief for 19 currently in Hungary, who are due to fly out of Frankfurt tomorrow (Sunday).
Oyunaa is not among them. “My family has told me to stop criticising the government on FB [Facebook]. They think that's why I am kicked out from the plane. I don't believe so, I will continue and try to help other Mongolians in Europe,” she said, defiantly.