ROME, 15 June 2016 – On the International Day of Family Remittances, 16 June, Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), calls for greater recognition of the vital financial contribution migrants make to the economic stability of their families and countries.
"The remittances sent back to relatives provide a lifeline, particularly to tens of millions of families living in fragile or post-conflict societies," Nwanze said. "Remittances can help rebuild the fabric of societies, spark economic development, and bring the stability necessary for a hopeful future."
In 2015, some 250 million migrants living outside their countries of origin sent nearly US$450 billion back home in remittances. Over the same period, 60 million people were forcibly displaced due to violent conflict and political upheaval, including 20 million refugees who fled across international borders.
Although headlines and news reports often focus on the number of migrants and refugees on the move, Nwanze stressed that a fundamental reality is often overlooked.
"No matter how many people leave their home countries to escape poverty or conflict, many more remain behind," he said. "It is important to focus on those living in distressed regions where the positive impact of remittances can count the most."
Nwanze cited Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and El Salvador as examples of conflict societies that have been rebuilt with the help of remittances. More recently, IFAD-supported activities among the Somali diaspora in Europe and the United States have resulted in targeted investments that have had a positive impact on Somalia's agriculture sector.
Over the last decade, IFAD has piloted remittance programs in more than 40 developing countries, helping to aid the flow of funds and giving families more options to invest their money and create opportunities for business development and employment.
As an indication of the transformative potential of remittances, Nwanze said that the new Sustainable Development Goals have set a target of 15 years to end extreme poverty. Within this time, migrants abroad will have sent an accumulated $7.5 trillion to their hometowns in developing countries.
On 19 September, the UN Plenary Session on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants will address the treatment and wellbeing of the millions of migrants and refugees and their families back home. Taken together, it is estimated that one out of every seven people on earth – more than one billion individuals – are directly impacted by remittances.
The International Day of Family Remittances was unanimously proclaimed by all 176 members states of IFAD's Governing Council held in February 2015.
About IFAD: IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, IFAD has provided about US$17.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached some 459 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN's food and agriculture hub.