Support migrants as remittances drop by 20 pct predicted: UN chief

Support migrants as remittances drop by 20 pct predicted: UN chief

ISLAMABAD-UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for "people everywhere" to support migrants as the World Bank projected that remittances will fall by about 20 percent  due to the coronavirus-induced economic crisis.

Marking the International Day of Family Remittances, which will be observed tomorrow, the UN chief Guterres recognized the determination of the 200 million migrants who regularly send money home, and 800 million families, in communities throughout the developing world, who depend on those resources.

In his message on the occasion, he appealed for people everywhere to support migrants, at a time when remittances -- the money migrants send home to support their families -- have fallen by more than 100 billion U.S. dollars, causing hunger, lost schooling and deteriorating health, for tens of millions of families.

Following a record 554 billion dollars sent home by migrants in 2019, the World Bank estimated, in April, that the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown, would cause the "sharpest decline in remittances in recent history," and projected a fall of 19.7 percent.

Millions of migrant workers have lost their jobs, pushing dependent families below the poverty line.

In order to help migrants, the UN chief called for a reduction in remittance transfer costs, financial services for migrants and their families -- particularly in rural areas -- and the promotion of financial inclusion for a more secure and stable future.

Such measures are proposed in the UN's Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, described by Guterres as a "key platform for action."

At the beginning of June, Guterres launched a UN policy briefing on the protection of "people on the move," in which he referred to the "socio-economic crisis" facing migrants, especially those working in the informal sector who have no access to protection schemes, and the drop in remittances which, he said equates to "nearly three-quarters of all official development assistance that is no longer being sent back home to the 800 million people who depend on it."

The UN chief also called for human dignity to be upheld in the face of the crisis, suggesting that lessons can be learned from those countries which have implemented travel restrictions and border controls while respecting international principles on refugee protection.

The International Day of Family Remittances is a universally recognized observance adopted by the UN General Assembly.

The day recognizes the contribution of over 200 million migrants to improve the lives of their 800 million family members back home, and to create a future of hope for their children. Half of these flows go to rural areas, where poverty and hunger are concentrated, and where remittances count the most.