Updates from the Cities and Migration Programme

July 2020
Arua Jinja

 

 

Welcome to our second triannual update on the activities of the Cities Alliance Programme on Cities and Migration. This Programme is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). We aim to share information about our projects, knowledge, and global advocacy efforts on behalf of the role of cities in managing migration. It is also a space for facilitating exchange, and we encourage members to share their migration-related news, events, and activities. 

 

A note on the impact of COVID-19:

 

This update covers activities from January through June 2020. Many of them were substantially impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19. A regional conference in Jigjiga, Ethiopia planned for April 2020 had to be postponed, and all nine city projects as well as the two research projects led by the World Bank and Oxford University face delays of at least three months. Projects have adapted by prioritising desk work and holding virtual meetings.  

 

GLOBAL ADVOCACY

 

Over the past six months, Cities Alliance participated in several high-profile global events to disseminate the Programme’s key messages on the role of secondary cities in managing migration.  The events were an opportunity to strengthen and renew cooperation on joint regional and global advocacy and identify new areas for collaboration.

 

A Focus on Latin American Cities at the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) 

 

Cities Alliance’s participation at the GFMD in Quito in January focused primarily on the 6th Mayoral Forum on human mobility, migration, and development on 22 January. Cities Alliance, the International Center for the Development of Migration Policies (ICMPD) and UNDP co-organised a session on “Strengthening partnerships to improve the local migration response in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).”

Anaclaudia Rossbach, Cities Alliance’s Regional Manager for LAC, also served as a speaker at a side event on “The impact of migration in Latin American cities, on the way to X World Urban Forum” organised by UN Habitat.

The key messages emerging from both events were:

  1. Migratory waves generate pressure in the territory, public spaces, informal occupation, excessive densification, and in the provision of urban services such as mobility and housing.
  2. The development agenda must be strengthened at the local level. There must be programmes and policies of economic and labour insertion, protection, inclusion, and social development in the municipalities both overall and focused on migrants.
  3. Social cohesion and urban governance – principles established in the New Urban Agenda – must be promoted. 
  4. Integration into social policies requires full recognition of rights in national frameworks, in addition to existing capacities in LAC in this area.
  5. Capacities at the local level are diverse; there is a significant impact on smaller municipalities, intermediate and secondary cities located in border areas or in metropolitan peripheries, and they suffer from a lack of metropolitan coordination.


Ethiopia’s Experience with Urban Expansion Planning Featured at WUF

 

At the World Urban Forum (WUF) in Abu Dhabi in February, Cities Alliance organised a session to explore urban expansion planning and how secondary cities can manage migration to promote growth. The session shared learning from an urban expansion approach that Cities Alliance has been vetting as an instrument for improving rural-urban migration management for secondary cities in low income countries. 

The planning instrument has a solid theoretical and empirical foundation and has been piloted in different countries including Ethiopia, where activities were implemented by the central government with support from New York University and Cities Alliance. 

At the session, city and national officials from Ethiopia shared their experiences with the instrument, which has allowed participating cities to rapidly expand their urban area in response to high levels of population growth in an orderly manner.  According to local officials and a report from the federal government, the instrument has resulted in less informality, lower housing costs, more access to services, and a larger number of formal sector jobs because businesses have had more land to expand. 

A delegation of Programme partners from Uganda were clearly intrigued by the Ethiopian experiences and indicated an interest in adopting a similar approach in Uganda, where 15 municipalities are being upgraded to city status. 

The Cities and Migration Programme’s key messages were highlighted in additional WUF panels:

1)  Future of inclusive urban data systems. Cities Alliance provided welcome input and examples from secondary cities in the Horn of Africa that face basic data needs so they can request appropriate fiscal transfers from the national government. Discussion addressed the challenge of enumerating residents who do not want to be recorded, and the role of organisations such as SDI to work with the government on this issue.

2)  Mobilising local research for global agendas. Cities Alliance presented results from its collaboration with two universities in Ethiopia and Uganda, which has demonstrated how well-placed universities are to interact with government entities and ensure an uptake of data and policy recommendations. This message was well received and panelists from Chile, Nigeria and Zambia provided further examples of the need to cooperate with local institutions.

 


Second Meeting of the Cities and Migration Programme Steering Committee

 

UN-Habitat hosted the Cities and Migration Programme’s second Steering Committee meeting on 11 February during WUF. Co-chaired by Cities Alliance and SDC, the meeting focused on exchange, collaboration, and joint advocacy. Members exchanged information about their projects and activities, and they stressed that, with global agendas approved and in place, it is time to translate them into programming to see results.  They also suggested that practitioners and drivers of advocacy should exchange, learn from each other, and build alliances. 

A second session focused on collaboration for the Cities and Migration Programme. Cities Alliance welcomed the suggestion made by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and United Cities and Local Governments Africa (UCLGA) to explore interest in greater joint advocacy. The intention was to discuss the issue at the Cities Alliance Board Meeting in May, which ended up being postponed due to COVID-19. 

 

Housing Laboratory Explores Informal Settlements and Migration in LAC 

 

Cities Alliance supported a Housing Laboratory (LAV) on Housing and Migration on 13 May 2020 with about 50 participants, primarily from local and national government institutions across LAC. They recognised the impact of migration on cities, particularly on precarious settlements and informal public spaces. A key message was that recognising migrants as subjects with rights is fundamental, and interventions are needed that advance this idea. These interventions must also address the problem in its entirety through housing, social benefits, labour insertion, and surveys that break down the information on migration status. A robust example in LAC is Brazil’s National Law of Migration, which allows rapid regularisation and identification procedures; the immediate prohibition of deportation in cases of borders; and migrants to benefit from social policies and programmes, such as housing. 

Panelists remarked that a lack of access to information – on the part of both migrants and those designing interventions – is a central issue that must be addressed. The availability of data is fundamentally important for local governments to plan adjusted holistic interventions in coordination with the different sectors and spheres of government. An example is “Guate te Incluye,” a multisectoral governance mechanism for the social and labour inclusion of returning migrants supported by the Cities and Migration Programme in Guatemala. Guate te Incluye seeks to help coordinate actions from public and private stakeholders, both nationally and locally, so that the private sector, international organisations, government, social and grassroots organisations are working together towards agreed and concerted outcomes.

 

Download the event flyer

 

PROJECTS 

 

The Cities and Migration Programme currently has pilot projects underway in nine cities. These activities have been impacted by COVID-19 to varying degrees, and Cities Alliance members as well as the Secretariat are actively assessing impact and discussing responses.

 

KENYA

 

UN-Habitat and Cities Alliance: Kalobeyei Corridor Infrastructure Development and Planning – for Sustainable Economic Development through Enhanced Connectivity 

 

This project aims to improve connectivity and networks to help businesses, local governments, and individuals in the Turkana West corridor gain access to a wider range of goods, finance, employment, and investment opportunities. Activities include multi-stakeholder exchange forums for cities, establishing an Economic Enterprise Zone (EEZ), expanding networks of cities for knowledge exchange and cooperation, building hard and soft infrastructure, and strengthening local capacity for coordination.

In March, UN-Habitat and the Turkana County government hosted the first Kalobeyei Corridor Infrastructure Planning Private Sector Workshop in Kakuma. Participants included representatives from UN-Habitat, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Kenyan national and local government, host and refugee communities, NGOs, private sector, and development partners. They discussed perspectives on the role of spatial planning in promoting local economic development in the Kakuma-Kalobeyei region, addressing issues of land governance, opportunities for enterprise development, and approaches to strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus work in Turkana West. A key takeaway was the need to leverage the unique context of mutually beneficial relationships between hosts and refugees to enhance local economic development and attract external investments. 

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kenyan government placed nationwide restrictions on activities in the country. To advance the project, UN-Habitat and the Turkana County government organised an online workshop to share the results of the initial topographical survey and land use proposals for the Turkana West corridor. The webinar also addressed key topics such as the corridor institutional framework, enterprise development, business competitiveness, commodity, and value chain analysis for Turkana West. The workshop was attended by various national and county government representatives, local private sector actors, as well as UNHCR, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Refugee Affairs Secretariat, GIZ, and Action Africa Help International (AAHI). 

More about UN-Habitat’s response to COVID-19 in Kakuma and Kalobeyei

 

UGANDA

 

Update from Arua: Counting Urban Refugees During COVID-19

 

Like most countries around the world, Uganda has not been immune to COVID-19, and the situation in Arua Municipality – a partner city in the Cities and Migration Programme – highlights some of the most challenging issues affecting refugees during a pandemic. Arua lies in a district that hosts more than 250,000 South Sudanese refugees, with self-settled urban refugees making up an estimated 24% of the total population. 

Despite these high figures, refugees are not included in the national census, and there have been challenges in documenting them at the municipal level. This lack of data makes it extremely difficult for cities like Arua to adequately plan and provide for all their residents, and results in increasing pressure on public services including health and education. In times of emergency like a pandemic, it becomes even harder to understand the level of support needed and where those in need actually reside. 

In Arua, day-to-day survival during a lockdown has been especially difficult for refugees. Uganda closed places for public assembly (including schools), banned public transport and non-food markets, and closed shopping malls and non-food stores. For refugees that meant limited access to food. 

Usually, the poorest commute to the city to work, then go back to the settlements where their families reside and where they can get their food rations. Others depend on a monthly trip back to the settlement where they are registered to collect their food rations. With a ban on vehicle journeys, refugees had no way to travel to the settlements.  Although residing in urban areas while remaining registered in camps is not technically permitted in Uganda, this is the reality for many refugees. The failure to collect data on urban refugees side-steps this reality and puts refugees in difficult and risky situations.

In Arua, only recognised market vendors were allowed sell their products, meaning that informal businesses and street vendors were forced to stop selling. This reduction in market vendors led to an overall reduction in the food supply and inflated food prices that affected Arua’s entire population. The situation also devastated the livelihoods of many refugees and members of the host communities who survive day-today through selling in the informal sector.

While food shortages are difficult for everyone, it is particularly challenging for refugees as the government does not offer them food rations (although at least in Kampala this stance appears to have changed due to international attention). Even if rations were available, however, it is unlikely that refugees would be eligible to receive them as they are not officially registered as living in Arua. 
“Since there is no data on how many refugees are in the city, there is no special consideration for the refugees in terms of food provision by the organisations,” one refugee said.

If urban refugees were properly accounted for, the municipalities in which they reside such as Arua could receive more resources from the central government to support their populations, including refugees. The amount of emergency support provided, such as food rations, could then reflect the actual number of those in need. Stronger health-care systems designed for the real number of inhabitants of municipalities, rather than just their citizens, could be created. And in turn the health and well-being of both urban refugees and Ugandans could be improved. The current pandemic highlights the need for the inclusion of urban refugees in censuses and government planning and should be a wake-up call to international NGOs to address the extreme vulnerability of those urban refugees so often deemed “self-reliant.”

Read the full article "Counting urban refugees during COVID-19" by Florence Lozet and Evan Easton-Calabria in the Forced Migration Review

 

THE PARTNERSHIP

 

This section highlights migration-related news, events and activities from Cities and Migration Programme members.

 

In Uganda, 6,177 Families Prepare to Leave their Homes due to Urban Development

 

By Franco Argelli, Migration and Integration Focal Point – AVSI Foundation

 

We all can imagine what it means to leave a place we have called home and where we have been at ease for decades, a condition which may be more difficult for vulnerable people to cope with. This is the story of 300 critically vulnerable families whom AVSI Foundation is working with to help them remain resilient and start a sustainable life in new locations.

Currently, 6,177 families are living in the Right of Way where the Kampala-Jinja Expressway will be constructed. AVSI’s focus is to identify the most vulnerable households involved in the expropriation process in the 11 most densely populated slums of Kampala – including Kasokoso, Kireka D, Namataba, Kito A, Kito B, and Namataba villages – and prepare them for relocation.

The European Union, through Cities Alliance, is funding the No One Worse Off social safeguards project to ensure that no environmental and social harm is done through the construction of the expressway. The 18-month project will clear the Right of Way for construction of the Kampala-Jinja Expressway while affected targeted households and businesses in the project areas will receive support services to help them acquire better sources of livelihoods, security of tenure and housing for longer term market and neighbourhood incremental upgrading.

AVSI social workers continue to visit the families impacted by the expressway construction amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to develop realistic plans for their relocation needs and future. AVSI is aware of the resources and the six-month timeline for families to leave their homes to give way to urban development.

 

Photo: AVSI Foundation

“I hope to buy cheaper land in Nakifuma (a village 20 km away from Kampala) where I can build a better house for my children. We are worried about starting a life in an unfamiliar village – my children will lose their friends.” -- Gladys Auma, 65, resident of Kasokoso slum

 

Bernard Twijukye, 41, sells potatoes in the Kireka D neighbourhood. He is worried that once he leaves, he may have no source of livelihood to take care of his wife and four children.

Gladys and Bernard are among the households who have been registered by the No One Worse Off project to receive a three-installment cash support worth USD 81 effective June 2020. The cash is intended to help them salvage materials, transport belongings, pay for house rent, and buy food and other household items. 

AVSI Foundation will continue to monitor and carry out home visits and provide psychosocial support for the restoration of livelihoods of the 300 families in their new locations so that they are not left worse off after relocation.

 

At the GFMD, UCLG Africa Explores Governance of Migration in Cities Crossed by Migratory Routes

 

In January 2020, the GFMD integrated the Mayors’ Mechanism on Migration (composed of UCLG, IOM, and the Council of Mayors for Migration) into its proceedings for the first time.  UCLG Africa organised a session on the governance of migration in cities crossed by migratory routes. This session, organised with the support of the mayors’ mechanism partners, provided a forum for sharing the experience of cities in West Africa (Gao, Mali and Agadez, Niger) and North Africa (Tunis, Tunisia and Arbaoua, Morocco) in receiving and managing migrants.

Three key elements emerged from these exchanges to enable the implementation of governance capable of ensuring the conditions for a dignified reception of migrants:

1) Partnerships with civil society and UN organisations specializing in migration (UNHCR, IOM), which are already happening in Morocco, Mali, Niger, and Tunisia. These partnerships foster a quadripartite dialogue between the State, UN agencies, local authorities, and associations at the local level to help develop effective and sustainable solutions.

2) Solidarity between local and regional authorities can facilitate search for solutions among peers and the sharing of experiences. For example, African cities have signed the Charter of Local and Subnational Governments of Africa on Migration, creating the first network of its kind on the continent.

3) Respect for commitments at the international, regional, national, or territorial level. Each commitment made by the State must be respected. Decentralisation laws, for example, should be aligned with the content of the Global Compact on Migration and enshrine the responsibility of local authorities in the management of migration.

The session made some recommendations and key messages to the Mayors’ Forum:

   •  Include the Charter of Local and Subnational Governments of Africa on Migration and the Marrakesh Mayoral Declaration in advocacy tools for the implementation of local policies on migration;

  •  Facilitate the access of cities located on migration routes to the projects and support programmes of NGOs and international organisations;

  •  Strengthen local diplomacy through exchange programmes and sharing of experiences between cities;

  •  Secure migration routes and the rights of migrants and refugees, especially those of vulnerable people (women, children, people with disabilities, etc.);

  •  Make cities safe places where all persons without distinction have access to basic services and preservation of their dignity; and

  •  Promote the inclusion of migrants in cities and end their exclusion and stigmatisation (migrant and refugee holding centres).

 

Read the full article about the session from UCLG Africa 

 

GFMD African Consultation Process Concludes with Call for Partnerships, City Role in Managing Migration 

 

The official closing session of the African consultations of the GFMD was held on 23 June for English-speaking countries and on 25 June for French-speaking countries. The session was also attended by representatives of the co-chairs of the regional consultation process (United Arab Emirates and the African Union), three thematic experts, and the representatives of the three GFMD mechanisms (civil society, mayors and the private sector).

UCLG Africa and the city of Ouagadougou took the floor during this session on behalf of the Mayors’ Mechanism, which highlighted three points:

1) The importance of multi-stakeholder dialogue platforms for local elected officials to find new allies and partners;

2) The role of local, elected representatives in changing the discourse on migration, because local and regional authorities are at the forefront of migration management and have an impact on the lives of migrants; and

3) The need not to forget migrants.

 

The African consultations agreed on four points:

 

1) Participation and partnerships: National and regional migration policies should be designed in coordination with all stakeholders, including local and regional authorities, the diaspora, civil society, and the private sector. There is also a need to test new partnerships in which cities engage directly with humanitarian and development actors and are eligible to directly benefit from technical and financial support.

2) Legal framework and access to resources: In practice, local governments are the ones who ensure the inclusion of migrants in the local community. However, they often lack the legal framework to engage in the governance of local migration. Existing migration governance frameworks need to include decentralised actions and resources.

3) The importance of data at the local level: There is a lack of reliable data on the vulnerabilities of the population, especially at the local level.

4) Access to services: The importance of providing access to protection and social security for migrants, regardless of their migration status.

 

Read more about the African consultation process closing session

 

A Live Learning Session on How Cities are Supporting Migrants during COVID-19 

 

As the level of government closest to citizens, local and regional governments bear the greatest responsibility for “leaving no one behind,” regardless of people’s legal status. The Live Learning Series hosted by UCLG, Metropolis, and UN-Habitat, has brought together more  than 1,000  participants from local and regional governments, the UN system, and civil society over the course of six sessions to share their experiences, initiatives, and actions to support their communities facing the pandemic through the provision of key basic services.

On April 16, in collaboration with the Mediterranean City-to-City Migration (MC2CM) project, a Live Learning Session was held to address inclusive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants included mayors and vice mayors from cities that are contributing towards changing the narrative on migration such as Eric Piolle, Mayor of Grenoble; Mounir Elloumi, Mayor of Sfax; Mohamed Sadiki, Mayor of Rabat; Souad Abderrahim, Mayor of Tunis; Salvatore Martello, Mayor of Lampedusa; Gissela Chalá, Vice Mayor of Quito; and Latif Karadag, Vice Mayor of Gaziantep, were joined by Spyros Oikonomou, Greek Council for Refugees, and key UCLG and UN-Habitat partners on migration such as Michael Spindelegger, Director General of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development  (ICMPD). 

The first part of the Live Learning Experience was a roundtable on how local and regional governments were responding to the need to reach out to local communities regardless of their legal status, their living or work conditions. It was moderated by Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG-Africa, who advocated for building cities of solidarity that contribute to a new perception of migrants.

The second part of the session included a discussion on how local and regional governments support   migrant communities, leverage their socio-economic contribution to the emergency and safeguard the most vulnerable. This segment was facilitated by Lefteris Papagiannakis, Former Vice Mayor of Athens, who highlighted that in many cases, the current context is leading to restrictions of rights and that migrants are often paying the price of distorted narratives. He called for reversing this narrative, stressing how protecting everyone, including the most vulnerable, is key for everyone’s health.

Read the event press release

 

 

GP20 Steering Group Meeting Focuses on Prevention, Protection and Solutions for Internal Displacement in Cities

 

The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (GP20) initiative on Advancing Prevention, Protection and Solutions for Internally Displaced People (IDP) held a virtual Steering Group meeting on 17 June to address internal displacement in urban areas. It was organised in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN-Habitat, the Joint IDP Profiling Service, and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. 

The meeting aimed to showcase and learn from government and other efforts to prevent and address internal displacement in urban areas. The panel included government representatives from Burkina Faso, Colombia, and Iraq, as well as the World Bank. They all shared current practices and lessons learned on addressing urban internal displacement to stimulate an open and frank exchange. 

Mr. Florent Bakouan, chairman of the Burkina Faso Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (CONASUR), stressed that local authorities are at the heart of managing IDPs, and that they need sustained support from the national government and humanitarian partners.  He recommended taking several actions to strengthen local authorities’ capacities to develop sustainable solutions to internal displacement. These include: strengthening their capacity in urban planning in a context of insecurity and humanitarian crisis; providing technical support so that local governments can systematically include IDPs in projects and programmes; increasing financial support from the national government for investments aimed at adequately supporting IDP needs; and strengthening collaboration between municipalities in formulating and implementing sustainable solutions for the return, resettlement and recovery of IDPs.

Representatives from Colombia, which has a large IDP population and one of the world’s most progressive legal and judicial systems in place to protect the human rights of IDPs, shared some of their experiences. Mr. Ramón Alberto Rodríguez Andra, National Director for the Attention and Integral Reparation of Victims, noted that a single registry for IDPs is an essential tool to help governments organise an appropriate response and design public policies that support the rights of IDPs. Mr. Jaime Vence, National Coordinator of Public Employment Agencies for the National Learning Service (SENA), outlined how his organisation is providing technical and educational training for IDPs.

More about the GP20 Steering Group meeting 

 

“Inclusive Cities, Communities of Solidarity” Project Responds to COVID-19 Crisis in LAC

 

Venezuela is experiencing a significantly deteriorating socio-economic situation linked to political instability and violations of fundamental rights. It is illustrated by increased unemployment rates, few opportunities for people to earn a livelihood, growing food insecurity, and lack of access to medical services. As a result of the emerging crisis, more than 4.5 million Venezuelans now live outside the country, with the numbers increasing significantly over the last year. As of January 2020, more than 3.8 million Venezuelans have moved to neighboring Latin American countries, generating a humanitarian crisis of regional proportions. 

In receiving countries, migration is placing significant pressures on institutions, service provision systems, the labour and housing markets, and the social dynamics of the receiving cities. COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation and had a major impact on the process of integrating refugees and migrants with host communities. 

A partnership of UN-Habitat, IOM, UNHCR and the European Union are funding a project to reduce vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants and increase the resilience of host communities in six LAC countries, with the specific objective of improving economic and social inclusion of vulnerable migrants, refugee populations and host communities in selected cities.

A first phase of the project is being implemented in Barranquilla and Cucuta/Villa del Rosario in Colombia; Quito, Ecuador; Lima, Perú; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In the course of 2020, the initiative will expand to Bucaramanga, Colombia; Manta, Ecuador; Panama City, Panama; and Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago. It launched in September 2019 and will run through September 2022.

 

Results

 

As of June 2020, the project has supported the operation of six UNHCR Integration and Orientation Centres in Barranquilla and Cucuta. These centres provide guidance on the services available within Colombia, such as access to health, education, and immigration procedures. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the centres have been providing services to beneficiaries over the phone.

It has also supported four local authorities to reinforce planning instruments, including the challenges and opportunities of refugees and migrants and their integration in public policies:

  1. Quito, Ecuador: Support for the Metropolitan Plan of Development and Territorial Planning 2020 – 2030 and the Land Use and Management Plan
  2. Cúcuta and Villa del Rosario, Colombia: Refugees and migrants included in the Local Development Plan of the new governments for 2019-2023 that allow the appropriation of the action as a strategic project for the Municipality.
  3. Barranquilla, Colombia: Support for a Local Development Plan that includes a human mobility approach to promote social inclusion
  4. Lima, Peru and Quito, Ecuador: Training webinars for public servants during COVID-19 to reinforce their capacity for urban planning and the inclusion of human mobility conditions. More than 60 members of the civil service benefited from the training (15 in Lima Municipality and 48 in the Metropolitan District of Quito).

 

COVID-19 Emergency Response

 

The project has coordinated with national and local officials to implement an emergency response for refugees, migrants and host communities impacted by the COVID-19 socio-economic crisis. Cash-Based Interventions (CBI) have benefited more than 800 families in LAC, including refugees, migrants, and hosting communities in vulnerable conditions. Recipients include:

  1. 60 young musicians who are part of the Venezuelan Dominican Youth Symphony Orchestra and 77 Venezuelan families in Santo Domingo;
  2. 829 families in Lima; and
  3. 800 families in Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cucuta, and Villa del Rosario have been identified and referred for CBI.

The project will keep implementing actions to support local governments in dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on refugees and migrant populations. It will also continue developing an action plan for building city and territorial intervention plans to implement actions on urban planning, socio-economic integration, and the protection of refugees and migrants in territories.

More about the “Inclusive Cities, Communities of Solidarity” project

 

CALL FOR ACTION

 

Switzerland Launches Appeal to Mitigate Sharp Decline in Remittances to Low-Income Countries

 

Large numbers of migrants living and working abroad send part of their wages to their families back home on a regular basis. Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, low-income countries have seen a dramatic fall in these remittances from abroad. Switzerland has therefore been working closely with the United Kingdom to call on the international community to keep remittance channels open and give the poorest communities continued access to these vital sources of income. The joint appeal, which is being launched 22 May 2020, also demonstrates the close ties between Switzerland and the UK.

The international call to action is being launched together with the UK and with the support of multilateral development organisations (Cities Alliance members the UN Capital Development Fund and the World Bank as well as the International Organization for Migration and UN Development Programme) and private financial actors.

The appeal aims to ensure the unhindered flow of remittances worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow the families of migrant workers to continue to receive this vital income and avoid falling into poverty. Lockdown restrictions and the closure of foreign exchange and cash transfer agencies also make it difficult, if not impossible, for migrant workers to send money home. Many agents currently lack the liquidity to continue operating. 

The appeal aims to provide migrant workers with additional options, including digital technologies and digital channels, to enable them to continue to send money home. It also calls on policymakers, regulators, and service providers worldwide to make it easier to transfer money abroad. Finally, it plans to use information campaigns to raise migrants' awareness of new ways of sending money home, including digital transfer options.

“Remittances are important, but difficult because of COVID-19. So let’s make sure those barriers are removed worldwide! New technologies can help us here," said Swiss Federal Councillor Mr. Ignazio Cassis.

Read the press release from 22 May 2020

 

ABOUT THE JWP ON CITIES AND MIGRATION

 

The Cities Alliance JWP on Cities and Migration is funded by the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC). It aims to generate new knowledge, promote analytical and collaborative approaches to key urban issues, and improve urban practices and policies related to cities and migration. It also aspires to become a local, national, and international coordination platform, knowledge hub and think tank for advocating new thinking on migration. The programme is designed to help cities and countries contribute directly to global agendas, including Agenda 2030 and the Global Compacts for Migration and for Refugees.

More

 

CONTACT US

 

For more information about the JWP or to contribute an article, please contact Florence Lozet at flozet@citiesalliance.org 


 

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