Nepal faces a crisis as COVID-19 stems the flow of remittances

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The mixed fate of South Asia’s millions of migrant labourers in the Gulf and elsewhere has long been a humanitarian issue. Now that a pandemic has pushed the world into recession, their precarious employment conditions have emerged as a major economic issue for the countries in South Asia that most depend on the earnings migrant workers send home as remittances. The World Bank projects that remittances to Nepal will slide by 14% this year – not the biggest slump in the region, but remittances represent more than a quarter of the country’s economic output. No other country in South Asia comes close – the next biggest share of remittances was around 8% of GDP in 2019, for both Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

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