Street vendor offering vegetables viewed form above.

Secretary-General's message 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged last year, so, too, did concerns about the potential negative impact of the crisis on remittances and on families that rely on them.

Fortunately, remittances have proved to be much more resilient and dependable than expected. The most recent data from the World Bank found that remittances to low- and middle-income countries reached $540 billion in 2020, just 1.6 percent below the 2019 total.

There are many reasons why remittances declined less than expected in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The main one is that migrants put the needs of their families first, curtailing personal consumption and drawing on savings.  Fiscal measures in host countries also made it possible for migrant workers to send money home.

Looking forward, we must continue efforts to support and protect migrants, who — as the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear — play such an important role in keeping essential services and the economy at large running in many parts of the world. Ensuring that all migrants, regardless of legal immigration status, are included in COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans is critical for the health and safety of all.

I also urge all stakeholders to continue efforts to reduce the costs of transferring remittances — a lifeline in the developing world — to as close to zero as possible in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to foster the financial inclusion of migrants and their families, especially in poor rural areas. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration offers a unified framework for such actions.

Looking forward, we must continue efforts to support and protect migrants, who — as the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear — play such an important role in keeping essential services and the economy at large running in many parts of the world.

António Guterres