Egyptians' remittances dip due to Libya conflict

Bassem Abo Alabass, Thursday 11 Aug 2011

Initial reports suggest a 5 per cent decline in money sent by Egyptians living abroad during the 2010/11 financial year, fuelled by departures of workers from Egypt's western neighbour

An Egyptian man who fled from Libya through the Salloum land port gate carries his belongings at the Egyptian-Libyan border, in Salloum (Photo: AP)

Overseas Egyptians sent home US$9 billion in the 2010/11 fiscal year, reported Al Ahram daily newspaper on Thursday, citing an economic report to be discussed by the cabinet within days.

This would mean an annual 5.2 per cent drop in remittances from Egyptians living and working abroad, according to the Central Bank of Egypt annual bulletin. Remittances reached $9.5 billion in the 2009/2010 fiscal year.
"The decline is logical given current events in Libya and other Arab countries which caused the lay-offs and the return of Egyptian workers from there," Omneya Helmy, deputy director of the Egyptian Center of Economic Studies (ECES), told Ahram Online
"Even if there are Egyptians still abroad, they might not transfer their money as usual due to the current instability in Egypt," she said.
Beltone Financial has estimated remittances will reach $9.4 billion in the 2010/11 fiscal year, significantly higher than the Ahram report’s numbers.
According to the International Organization of Migration (IOM), the estimated 330,000 to 1.5 million Egyptians living and working in Libya sent home a total of around $33 million each year. 
This all changed in early 2011 with a popular uprising against the country's leader Muammar Gaddafi, a de facto split of the country, and NATO intervention.
The IOM estimates that 147,800 Egyptian migrants returned from Libya via Tunisia and Sallum in February and March 2011, but is unable to provide figures for any others who have returned since them.
"The implications for the Egyptian economy of the current crisis in Libya are significant," an IOM note says.
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