UN Migration Agency: “Remittance Flows Can Be an Economic and Social Lifeline for Migrant Families”

Date Publish: 

Geneva – International Day of Family Remittances will be celebrated this Saturday (16/06). To mark the occasion, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, wishes to highlight the development potential of financial and social links that tie migrants to their loved ones back at home.

A financial remittance is a private transfer of funds by a foreigner to an individual in their country of origin. Financial remittances have been recognized as playing a key role in reducing poverty and improving the lives of both migrants and their families. In numerical terms, there are more international migrants around the world than at any other period in history, and most of them are migrant workers.

The World Bank estimates indicate that in 2017, USD 466 billion was transferred in financial remittances to low- and middle-income countries –and this trend is likely to continue upwards. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) estimates one in every seven people is directly supported by remittances. This is why the International Day of Family Remittances is celebrated each year.

William Lacy Swing, IOM Director General, has recognized remittance flows as “economic lifelines” for migrant families, highlighting their ability to reduce poverty, provide better health care and access to nutrition, increase education opportunities for children, improve housing and sanitation conditions, promote entrepreneurship and financial inclusion, and reduce inequality. While the International Day of Family Remittances has traditionally focused on financial flows, migrants also generate ‘social remittances’ – which is the flow of skills, knowledge, ideas and values they transmit back home. Unlike financial remittances, social remittances extend to the wider community, for a larger development impact.

Taken together, financial and social remittances have an important role to play in the achievement of individual family goals, and more broadly the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. There is however still more to be done before the development potential of remittances can be fully realised. Migrants, governments and the private sector are essential actors in this process.

“Governments can harness the skills and creativity of their diaspora and encourage them to invest back home through coordinated policies,” said Marina Manke, Head of IOM`s Labour Mobility and Human Development Division. “Efforts should be directed towards improving financial literacy amongst the home population and migrants, so that they can make informed decisions about how to send money back and how to invest remittances. Finally, there is a need to fully recognize and appreciate migrants as agents of change — for both their social and financial capital,” she added.

In recent years, IOM has been scaling up its support to governments and migrants to help them reap the development benefits of migration. More than 150 diaspora mappings have been conducted, shedding light on the characteristics of diaspora communities, their location and potential to engage with their communities of origin. Currently, IOM is engaged in several remittance-related projects globally, notably through an initiative to reduce remittance costs in Burundi, and the development of MigApp — a mobile application that enables migrants to compare cost-effective money transfers options offered by service providers.

For more information, please contact Vanessa Okoth-Obbo at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 22 717 9366, Email: vokoth@iom.int


IOM Offers Real-Time Information for People Displaced by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas

Date Publish: 
20 / 09 / 2019

Nassau – Almost three weeks after Hurricane Dorian decimated Abaco and Grand Bahamas islands, almost 2,000 persons evacuated from these islands remain in shelters in New Providence, a few kilometres west of Nassau. Many more are temporarily accommodated with family and friends. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is exploring with the government of The Bahamas the implementation of a cloud-based system which can be used to facilitate shelter management and family reunification.

“After a disaster like Hurricane Dorian, reliable information is one of the most critical components of response and recovery efforts.  Sadly, as the pressure builds to address humanitarian needs, it is often overlooked,” said Jan-Willem Wegdam, IOM team leader in The Bahamas. “To ensure that IOM implements efficient and relevant programmes, the emergency response team has engaged in several dialogues with government officials, local NGOs and other international humanitarian partners to exchange ideas and finalise project concepts.”

On Wednesday, 18 September, IOM staff in Nassau met with representatives of the Department of Social Services – the institution in charge of managing government-run shelters. During the meeting, the Government officials outlined their current information management practices and shared the needs of the institution in that regard.  Thereafter, IOM presented methodologies and products to support the ministry with managing information on evacuees and other displaced individuals and their needs. 

One such product was the Integrated Shelter Registration System (SIRA) – an electronic system used to connect Government approved collective centres under a single cloud-based system which can be used to facilitate shelter management.  If implemented, the system would allow the department to generate real-time report on the status and needs of the population living in collective centres.

“Capturing that type of data is important because the population in the collective centres is changing constantly,” IOM Information Management and Research Officer, David Morales, said. “So updated information is fundamental to support the humanitarian response of all the partners."  Following the meeting, IOM has shared a detailed proposal for a comprehensive data collection strategy to be implemented over the next few months in support of recovery and rehabilitation efforts.

Considering how the exchange of information between humanitarian partners, officials, emergency managers and those impacted by Hurricane Dorian, is so vital, IOM on Thursday (19 September), met with the Ministry of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration.  The dialogue was considered as an opportunity to start what will hopefully be a long-lasting conversation between the Government and IOM, as well as the rest of the humanitarian community, on challenges and options to address the needs of affected persons of Haitian descent, in both regular and irregular status.

“Challenges and issues related to migration status and cultural diversity have already come up as part of people’s access to all forms of assistance in the aftermath of the hurricane” said Lorenzo Guadagno, manager of IOM’s MICIC (Migrants in Countries in Crisis) capacity building activities, “anticipating and addressing them will be essential to successful response and recovery for the migrants as well as for the whole community.”

For more information please contact Vynliz Dailey in the Bahamas, Email: vdailey@iom.int, Tel +1 (767) 615-6681.