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Helping the poor  Keep remittance channels open, urge Bern and London 

migrant workers in field

After a record high of $550 billion in 2019,  the World Bank predicts that in 2020 migrant worker remittances to low and middle-income countries will drop by about 20% owing to the economic impact of Covid-19.

(Keystone)

Switzerland and the United Kingdom have launched a global appeal for migrant and diaspora remittance channels to be kept open despite Covid-19, to ensure vital income for the poorest communities around the world. 

Because of the current coronavirus crisis, low-income countries have seen a dramatic fall in these remittances from abroad, said the Swiss foreign ministryexternal link.  

Lockdown restrictions and the closure of foreign exchange and cash transfer agencies make it difficult, if not impossible, for migrant workers to send money home, and many agents currently lack the liquidity to continue operating, it explained. 

"Remittances are important, but difficult because of Covid-19. So let's make sure those barriers are removed worldwide!” said Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis. “New technologies can help us here."  

Raising awareness 

The appeal launched on Friday aims to provide migrant workers with additional options, including digital technologies and digital channels, so they can continue to send money home. It calls on policymakers, regulators and service providers to make it easier to transfer money abroad. And it plans to “use information campaigns to raise migrants' awareness of new ways of sending money home, including digital transfer options”, according to the ministry press release.  

It said that several countries had already joined the call for action, including Egypt, Ecuador, El Salvador, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan. 

The appeal has been launched with the support of multilateral development organisations including the World Bank and International Organization for Migration, and private financial actors. 

Close ties 

The joint appeal “highlights the close ties between Switzerland and the UK and demonstrates the strong working relationship between the two countries,” said the Swiss foreign ministry. “Switzerland has been working closely with the UK authorities in view of the country's withdrawal from the EU (Brexit) under the Federal Council's Mind the Gap strategy, which aims to maintain the current mutual rights and obligations between the two countries as far as possible.” 


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