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Research Report

REMITTANCES IN CONFLICT AND CRISES:: How Remittances Sustain Livelihoods in War, Crises, and Transitions to Peace

Copyright Date: Feb. 1, 2006
Pages: 31

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
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  4. (pp. i-ii)
  5. (pp. 1-3)

    Although migrant workers, refugees and immigrants have been sending money, goods and ideas home for millennia, donors and international finance agencies did not pay very much attention to the phenomenon until about a decade ago. Interest has grown exponentially as statistics show what we now call migrant remittances to be among the most important contributing factors to national economies in several countries. By the end of 2004, the small sums of money sent by poor workers to their families across the globe collectively added up to approximately $125 billion, using figures for formally registered international transfers.² If counting the funds...

  6. (pp. 3-10)

    Academic and technical experts and practitioners working on the four related research areas noted above generate vast amounts of information. In building a research agenda for remittances in conflict and crisis, it is essential to explore the potential contributions from each of these fields. Although the barriers are beginning to break down, there is still too little sharing of knowledge among them. Under each topic is a list of the current research emphases. It is clear that while all contribute information about remittances in conflict and crisis, a deliberate focus on conflict remains an exception rather than the rule.


  7. (pp. 10-12)

    Both formal and informal money transfer operations have multiplied and become major businesses worldwide. Banks are attempting to be more relevant to workers and their families who typically would not be regarded as creditworthy. International agencies, governments and NGOs are looking to facilitate money transfers and help them become worthwhile investments for the poor.39 Governments and financial institutions in the wealthier countries have taken important actions thus far to encourage and facilitate remittances to poorer countries. Their actions have resulted in lower transaction costs for senders, greater use of formal transfer mechanisms via banks and credit unions, increased participation of...

  8. (pp. 12-16)

    As the attached bibliography shows, researchers in the four fields outlined above are beginning to call attention to how assistance and investment from migrant communities to countries—or parts of countries—beset by conflict, plagued by repressive and predatory governments, or lacking legitimate institutions (judicial, legislative, financial, public services) enable national societies to function. Three such countries, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Somalia, are somewhat better documented than most. They exemplify survival strategies based on remittances, the differing remittance practices of migrant diasporas, and the challenges related to transferring funds to crisis countries. The following brief summaries, admittedly lacking in much...

  9. (pp. 16-17)

    Migrants who send remittances to families in crisis or conflict countries face much the same issues as those sending remittances to countries where most of the population is poor, governments are corrupt, and unemployment is high. As is the case with migrants everywhere, they may remake their lives and choose not to return. They support their families at home to the extent they can, just as other migrants do, and for surprisingly long periods of time. Across the board, remittances play a crucial role for maintaining livelihoods.

    The differences, however, are important:

    1. It is more difficult to promote development uses...

  10. (pp. 18-24)
  11. (pp. 25-25)