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Ministerial Conference of Least Developed Countries Focuses on Migrant Remittances

A two-day ministerial conference gets underway this week in
Benin’s capital, Cotonou aimed at improving the impact of
migrant remittances on development in the world’s least
developed countries.

The conference, the first at ministerial level on this subject,
has been organized by the Benin government in collaboration with
IOM and the UN’s Office of the High Representative for the
Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the
Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).

Thirteen ministers number among the 50 participants from 28
countries that will be attending the conference beginning on 9
February. Other participants include government officials,
representatives from the private sector, international
organizations and diaspora associations.

Remittances, an outcome of migration, constitute the most direct
link between migration and development. Migrants now number between
an estimated 185-192 million people who last year officially sent
an estimated US$ 232 billion in remittances, US$167 billion to
developing countries. However, sending remittances through informal
channels is estimated to be at least 50 per cent of recorded flows,
implying that the true size of remittances reaching development
countries last year is probably more than US $250 billion. These
figures are likely to rise in time as migratory pressures are also
forecast to increase.

Remittances are an important financial inflow to least developed
countries, with Bangladesh for example, listed in the top 20
remittances receiving countries. In developing countries, they also
constitute the second largest capital flow after direct foreign
investment and have helped to improve the standard of living of
millions of people by providing them with essential resources for
food, housing, health and education.

However, remittance flows to Africa, where 35 out of 50 of the
least developed countries are to be found, and in particular to the
Sub-Saharan Region, are not only considerably low compared to other
countries, but are also heavily under-reported.

The lack of efficient, adequate and reliable banking facilities,
high transfer costs and low access to the formal sector are some of
the reasons for the use of informal channels.

“By 2015, more than half of the world’s poor will be
living in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s the most critical
challenge facing Africa and this conference which gathers most of
the least developed countries is a unique opportunity to commonly
explore new and innovative ways of enhancing the development of the
world’s poorest,” said Ndioro Ndiaye, IOM Deputy
Director General.

IOM has done considerable research in order to provide
governments with tools to define their remittance policies,
including in Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, Haiti, Uganda and the
Democratic Republic of Congo, all of which number among least
developed countries.

The two-day conference will end with the adoption of a series of
recommendations to optimize the development benefits of remittances
and to mobilize support for their implementation.

For further information, please contact:

Nilim Baruah

IOM Head of Labour Migration in Cotonou

Tel: + 41 79 783 7924

E-mail: "mailto:nbaruah@iom.int" target="_blank" title=
"">nbaruah@iom.int