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UN Report: Migrants Sending Billions More Home Than in 2007

FILE - Eritrean migrants walk after arriving by plane from Italy at the first registration camp in Erding near Munich, Germany, Nov. 15, 2016.

Migrants are sending home billions of dollars more than they did a decade ago - and the rate of growth in remittances is almost double the increase in migration, according to a U.N. report released Wednesday.

The report commissioned by the International Fund for Agricultural Development says that remittances increased by 51 percent during the decade from 2007 to 2016 while migration rose by 28 percent and population in the home countries of migrants grew by 13 percent.

The Rome-based U.N. agency which fights poverty in rural areas said the report is the first to examine a 10-year trend in migration and remittance flows. It said the findings are based on a series of studies and surveys commissioned by the fund, known as IFAD, and on its analyses of World Bank data.

According to the report, remittances increased in almost all regions of the world, but the sharp rise between 2007 and 2016 was mainly due to Asia which saw an 87 percent increase in money sent home from migrants.

IFAD President Gilbert Houngbo said what's most important is the impact on the lives of family members and others who receive the money.

“The small amounts of $200 or $300 that each migrant sends home make up about 60 percent of the family's household income, and this makes an enormous difference in their lives and the communities in which they live,” he said in a statement.

According to the report, more than 200 million migrant workers are now supporting an estimated 800 million family members around the world.

And it projects that this year one billion people - one-in-seven people in the world - will be involved in either sending or receiving more than $450 million in remittances.

“About 40 percent of remittances - $200 billion - are sent to rural areas where the majority of poor people live,” said Pedro de Vasconcelos, manager of IFAD's Financing Facility for Remittances and the report's lead author. “This money is spent on food, health care, better educational opportunities and improved housing and sanitation.”

The study estimates that between 2015 and 2030 an estimated $6.5 trillion will be sent to low- and middle- income countries.

Over 100 countries receive more than $100 million in remittances every year, the report said, led by China, India, the Philippines, Mexico and Pakistan.

It said the top 10 sending countries account for almost half the annual remittances: United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Kuwait, France, Qatar, United Kingdom and Italy.