Remittance flows have increased five-fold over the past twenty years, but COVID-19 has been a formidable test for global remittances. Remittances act as a lifeline for low-income and fragile states where dependents back home rely on remittances to meet their basic needs. It is important that the role of remittances is recognized in people's well-being, especially during this pandemic, as they enable many families to achieve their own 'SDGs.'

The International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and is observed on 16 June. The IDFR is now globally recognized and is a key initiative in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (Objective 20), which urges the reduction of transfer costs and greater financial inclusion through remittances. 


A May 2021 report by the World Bank reveals a drop in remittances of only 1.6 percent in 2020, to US$ 540 billion from US$ 548 in 2019. The resilience of these flows is not surprising. While these inflows total in the billions, the number that matters the most to families is the average remittance of US$200-US$300 a month. Behavioral shifts among migrants like saving more to send more remittances, greater utilization of formal sending channels enable them to send more money over the years. One of the greatest catalysts for formal remittances during 2020 was the accelerated adoption of digital technology by migrant workers and their families. Both online and mobile digitalization have buoyed remittance flows during this challenging period. Mobile remittances alone increased 65 percent during 2020 to US$ 12.7 billion (GSMA, 2021). This change was hastened by lockdowns and social distancing rules that spurred the move away from informal channels and the use of cash for senders and recipients. Digitalization is less costly than cash transfers and has reinforced the adoption of mobile money, thereby advancing the financial inclusion of migrants and their families. 

During this pandemic, this day recognizes that when migrants lose their jobs, those remittance flows stop. It’s in everyone’s interest for host countries to help support migrant workers through the pandemic.

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Shristi Banerjee, 

Practising Advocate, High Court of Jharkhand (India)