Egypt is Among the First Countries to Join the International Call to Action “Remittances in Crisis: How to Keep Them Flowing”, Aimed to Ensure the Flow of Remittances to Prevent the Negative Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19

Cairo, 16 June 2020—The Arab Republic of Egypt is one of the first countries to join the International Call to Action: “Remittances in Crisis: How to Keep them Flowing.” This initiative is spearheaded by the Embassy of Switzerland and the Embassy of the United Kingdom, in order to mitigate and combat the negative socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19, on migrants and the local economy.  The Call to Action is designed to highlight the vital role that remittances play in supporting hundreds of millions of people around the world, and to generate momentum around a number of important measures that can keep remittances flows moving in the crisis.  

In a joint action between IOM Egypt and the Governments of Egypt, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, a social media campaign was disseminated with the purpose of providing informative messages to promote understanding on remittances flows within the context of Egypt.  The campaign was launched during the International Family Remittances Day, celebrated on June 16.  Countries and stakeholders around the world have joined efforts in the commemoration of this International Day.  A Global Webinar on remittances was conjointly organized by the Government of Switzerland and the United Kingdom in partnership with the World Bank/KNOMAD, UNCDF, IOM and UNDP, the International Association of Money Transfer Networks, and the International Chamber of Commerce.  The Government of Egypt participated as a member of the first panel discussion on COVID-19 impacts on remittances, represented by Ambassador Amr El Sherbini, Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Migration, Refugees and Combatting Human Trafficking from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

As the world faces the economic and broader development repercussions of COVID-19, remittances to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are projected to fall sharply in 2020—by about 20 percent or US $110 billion. Egypt is the fifth highest recipient of remittances in the world, reaching USD 26.8 billion in2019 and nearly making up 10% of GDP (OECD). In Egypt, the value of remittances during January through March was around the usual average of USD 6 billion, however, a decrease by USD 2.3 billion is expected during April through June 2020 (OECD) due to the pandemic. 

Migration creates new livelihood and income opportunities, including through remittances, which account for more than 5 percent of GDP for at least 60 low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). Therefore, interruptions to cross-border financial flows caused by the ongoing pandemic particularly affects migrants and their families. Most migrants have limited safety nets, due to their being employed in the informal sector; most may not have access to national social security handouts, resulting in limited to no income. Ultimately, these migrants become stranded in their host countries with little or minimal support, unable to support themselves and their families.

Interruptions, or reductions in remittances can have major effects not only for migrants and their families, but for local economies and communities, which results in a decrease in productive investment, consumption spending, and access to education and health services. Therefore, it is critical that governments, partners, stakeholders, and like-minded organizations take action to ensure that remittances keep flowing, to prevent the negative socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 on migrants and their families, as well as to circumvent the negative impacts on the local economy. Estimates from the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies indicate that the effects of Covid-19 on the Egyptian economy are likely to be felt up to June 2021 due in part to reduced remittances.

This call for action, which is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and with a view to leaving no one behind, is open for all countries and like-minded partners to join.

For more information, please contact Wigdan Mohamad at IOM Egypt, Tel: +20 1012 428 527, Email: wimohamad@iom.int

 

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