Tuesday 16 June 2020

Remittances: A lifeline that must not be severed

16.06.2020 - Globally hundreds of millions of people rely on the money sent home by migrants working abroad. Many of these families live in rural areas where poverty and hunger exist and their reliance on the money sent home is total.

In March, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres reinforced the importance of this financial flow when he said, “Remittances are a lifeline in the developing world – especially now. Countries have already committed to reduce remittance fees to 3 percent, much below the current average levels. The crisis requires us to go further, getting as close to zero as possible."
The deadly advances of the COVID-19 pandemic jeopardize this financial lifeline. With countries forced into lock-down, millions of jobs have been lost or furloughed. The flow of funds that keep families out of poverty are drying up. 
Posts play an essential role in ensuring that money from migrants reaches families. Across the world, there are more than 600,000 post offices; some of them operating in the remotest areas to ensure migrant families receive life-saving remittances.
According to a recent study by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) the impact of the pandemic on postal operations is likely to be dire. Given the shuttering of many post offices and projected declines in postal payments, the amount and volume of transactions will most likely drop in 2020, as the number of new postal accounts also fall. The report states: “The most affected flows will be those from wealthier to developing countries, some of which rely strongly on this financing source to sustain their economic activity.”
Today is the International Day of Family Remittances, and the theme is building resilience in times of crisis. The day offers a welcome opportunity to highlight the severe challenges that migrants face in sending money home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Universal Postal Union is marking the day by offering its full support to migrants sending money home in these desperate circumstances.  
“Families play an essential role in the well-being of all our societies. On the International Day of Family Remittances, and during this global pandemic, the Universal Postal Union offers its profound support to migrant workers seeking to use the world’s financial system, including postal financial services, to send money back home. You are not alone,” said Bishar A. Hussein, the Director General of the UPU.

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