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Financial lifeline

November 30, 2011

Migrants have become a significant factor in the international economy. Remittances sent by migrant workers to their home countries reach some $325 billion, according to World Bank estimates.

A person counting coins
Many migrants try to send money to their family, but it's difficult for them to get byImage: LAIF

Remittances from migrants living abroad are three times the size of official development assistance. In several small countries, they even exceed a fifth of GDP and provide the largest source of foreign exchange.

Many migrants have said they feel a duty to send back money that their families back home gave them to facilitate the trip to Europe. It is often the case that families plunge themselves into debt to get a family member abroad.

After arriving in Europe, people live under pressure to find a job that pay well enough not only to earn their own living but which also lets them send a regular amounts of money back home.

While highly qualified employee invited to Europe and employed by a large company can afford to support family members, the situation is different for other migrants. Students often have a long list of exams to pass, possibly still struggle with the language and are only permitted to work 10 hours per week. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work at all until the authorities have decided their claim, which can take years.

Many migrants hesitate to tell the entire truth about their true experience abroad. To the people back home, they would rather pretend to live a life of luxury than having to admit how difficult it is to get by. This makes it even harder for further generations who set off towards Europe after being misled by fabricated accounts of an easy life.

Author: Klaus Dahmann

Editor: Sean Sinico