The five most important things you need to know about Somali remittances

Every year on 16 June, the world marks the International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR).

The United Nations says the IDFR is aimed at “recognizing the significant financial contribution migrant workers make to the wellbeing of their families back home and to the sustainable development of their countries of origin”.

“It is also aimed at encouraging the public and private sectors, as well as the civil society, to do more together and collaborate to maximize the impact of these funds in the developing world.”

For many families in Somalia, money sent from abroad by family and friends is a critical source of income.

They use it to buy food, medicine, get shelter and start businesses.

Here are five key things you need to know about the remittance business and industry in Somalia:

1. In 2015, remittances were estimated to reach a total of $1.4 billion in Somalia and support 23 percent of the country’s GDP, says the World Bank.

2. Somalis in the US send the highest contributions, bringing back home an average of $3,800 per person every year, according to a study published by the charity Oxfam in 2013.

3. Somali-Canadian rapper K’naan Warsame’s “15 Minutes Away” celebrates the practice of sending and receiving remittances. The song includes the words: “Feels like an angel speakin’ / I can hardly believe it.”

4. It is estimated that some two million Somalis in the diaspora use remittances to give monetary aid to loved ones in their home country.

5. Some 40 percent of the people in the Horn of Africa country rely on remittances for their daily needs, says Somali NGO Adeso.

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