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Money refugees send home a ‘critical lifeline’ for millions

Migrants are estimated to send half a trillion dollars home every year [AFP]

Date of publication: 12 April, 2017

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One in seven people globally is directly impacted by migrants who are sending money back home to family, says the head of the UN's agricultural development agency.
Migrants are providing around half a trillion dollars each year for family members and dependents back home in poor and underdeveloped countries, said the Director of the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Speaking at the Perugia International Journalism Festival in Italy, the IFAD head said that these remittances could be directly impacting one in every seven people around the world.

"We hear concerns raised about migrants and refugees entering countries, but let's not forget that the money they send home, particularly to countries where conflict or environmental disasters are taking a toll, actually helps stabilise families and rebuild communities," Brizzi said.

The money sent back to relatives by migrants, who are estimated to number around 250 million, is believed to support around 750 million people around the world, he added.

"Migrants' money represents a critical lifeline for millions of households, helping families raise their living standards above subsistence and vulnerability levels, while investing in health, education, housing as well as entrepreneurial activities," Brizzi said.

The IFAD chief's remarks come amid continued global concern about the impact of migration and the welfare of migrants and refugees who risk their lives to escape persecution, wars and natural disasters in their home countries.

The perils faced by people in the midst of the current migrant crisis, including dangerous journeys, kidnapping and exploitation, have heightened concern among aid agencies and states. At the same time, far-right groups and some Western governments have used the migrant crisis to stoke fear and increase calls for stringent immigration controls.

Against this backdrop, Brizzi's words on the economic impact of migrants on development in their home countries highlighted an aspect that is often ignored. 

However, the IFAD director emphasised that families of migrants could benefit more if they had access to competitive money transfer markets and targeted financial services to help manage their money.

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