Remittances in Times of Crisis: Facing the Challenges of COVID-19

The very recent announcement by the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. António Guterres, has called for global solidarity in response to the coronavirus crisis. In his address, he underscored the fact that “remittances are a lifeline in the developing world – especially now”. (19 March 2020).

More than 200 million migrant workers live and work in many countries around the world. Most of them send remittances back home on a regular basis, and these vital resources support another 800 million family members and relatives living in rural and urban neighborhoods of developing countries.

Countries affected by COVID-19 are moving urgently to develop policies and to expand safety nets to help deal with health threats and job losses. However, migrant workers are generally not covered by such measures. If they are unable to work, they cannot earn the money so vital to their families' welfare.

The trajectory and impact of this pandemic are still unknown. However, lessons learned from the global reaction to the events of 2008 and 2001 point towards a dramatic reduction in the more than US$500 billion in family remittances sent home annually. Consequently, hundreds of millions of families will be unable to reach their own daily Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In response to this dire scenario, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations based in Rome, Italy, through its Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR) is convening the Remittance Community Task Force to address the challenges confronting migrant workers and their families with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The immediate priority of this Task Force will be to develop a coordinated and concerted effort to raise awareness of the impact of this pandemic on the ONE BILLION people on earth directly involved in remittances. In doing so, we will give voice to remittance families.

The Task Force will provide regular updated information concerning the challenges facing remittance families in the social and economic fallout during the coming months through its Briefs. The Task Force will also provide a convening platform for international organizations, national, regional and local governments, the private sector, academic experts and civil society including migrant and diaspora groups and their families.

It is time to act together as one to confront this global emergency.

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