By Kathleen Moore
The global economic downturn is likely to cut the amount of cash sent by millions of migrants worldwide to their families back home, the UN and other agencies have warned, and the impact is likely to be felt keenly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The decline in remittances to Eastern Europe and Central Asia is compounded by soaring food prices that have left many people in the region's poorest countries on the breadline.
"A number of our countries -- Tajikistan, Moldova, for example -- have very, very high dependence on remittances," says Pradeep Mitra, the World Bank's chief economist for Europe and Central Asia. "Therefore, as the world economy slows, as we expect it will -- there will be a slowdown in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine -- the poorer countries are going to be hit because the flow of remittances is going to go down."
But, he adds, governments can help alleviate the impact by better targeting subsidies at their poorer citizens.
Remittances In Numbers
Some 190 million people worldwide live outside the place of their birth, up to 40 million of them unauthorized, according to the UN. Of the total figure, Europe and Central Asia export 47.6 million migrants, or 10 percent of the region's population, according to the World Bank.
While European Union countries are a target destination for many Eastern Europeans like Moldovans, Russia is the primary destination for most Central Asian migrants and people from Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Alan note: Russia has its own "mirant" population of about 50,000 consultants in islamic iran, who send an average of $50 Million back home every month!
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