Migrants feel inflationary pressure twice – at home and abroad

AYA BATRAVI, TRISHA AHMED, CLAUDIA TORRENCE and MENELOS HADZIKOSTIS – Associated Press

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – In almost every corner of the globe, people spend more on food and fuel, rental and transportation.

But inflation does not affect people equally. For migrants whose relatives rely on the money they bring back, higher prices squeeze families twice: at home and abroad.

Migrant workers who send cash to loved ones abroad often save less as they are forced to spend more as prices rise. For some, the only option is to hustle, work weekends and nights, get a second job. For others it means the reduction of once basic things like meat and fruit so that they could send what was left of their savings to their families back home, some of which fighting hunger or conflict.

“I used to save weekly, about $200. Now I can barely save $100 a week. I live by day,” said Carlos Huerta, a 45-year-old Mexican who works as a driver in New York.

Across the Atlantic, Lisa Jataas, 49, sends about 200 euros ($195) to her family in the Philippines every month from her desk in Cyprus. To save money, she looks for cheaper food at the grocery store and buys clothes at a charity shop.

“It’s about being resilient,” she said.

Economies reeling from the upheavals of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of climate change have once again been hit by Russia’s war in Ukrainewho sent food and energy prices are rising rapidly.

These costs have fallen Another 71 million people around the world are in poverty in the weeks following the February invasion which stop important grain supplies from the Black Sea region, reports the UN Development Program.

If food and fuel prices are rising rapidly, the money people can send to relatives doesn’t go as far as it used to. The International Monetary Fund estimates that global inflation will peak at 9.5% this year, but it is much higher in developing countries.

“Poorer people spend far more of their incomes on food and energy,” said Max Lawson, head of inequality policy at the anti-poverty organization Oxfam.

He said inflation was “fueling the fire” of inequality: “It’s almost like poor people are like a sponge that has to absorb the economic shock.”

Mahdi Warsama, 52, came to the United States from Somalia as a teenager. An American citizen who works for the nonprofit Somali Parents Autism Network sends between $3,000 and $300 a month to relatives in Somalia, sometimes borrowing money to send relatives what they need to pay medical bills and other emergencies.

Warsama, who splits his time between Columbus, Ohio, and Minneapolis, estimates he sent $1,500 last month to help his relatives pay for food and water for himself and his livestock.

Thousands of people died in a drought has gripped Somaliathe UN says that half a million children are in risk of death due to malnutrition or near starvation.

“Just like we have inflation in the United States, it’s worse in Somalia,” he said, adding that bags of rice, sugar and flour that once cost $50 now cost $70.

He changed his spending habits, looking for ways to earn more and tracks rising interest rates and inflation is something he has never done before this year.

“I’m more into working harder and making more money,” Warsama said. “I need to be more careful about helping my relatives back home.”

In New York, Huerta has been living apart from his wife and children for almost 20 years, taking jobs from washing dishes to driving a car – whatever it takes to make enough.

He said he sends about $200 a week to his wife and mother in Puebla, Mexico. Huerta also learned to paint houses, so when there is no demand for a chauffeur, he can earn about $150 a day.

With a salary of about $3,600 a month and rising rent on his Queens apartment, Huerta said he’s replaced steak with chicken, eats less fruit as prices have skyrocketed and ditched TV.

For Jaotas, who has lived in Cyprus for nearly two decades, the six relatives she supports in the Philippines are not only facing rising costs, but are also reeling from the effects of the typhoon, which knocked out water and electricity.

“We really enjoy helping our family back home, no matter the disaster or handicap,” she said.

Analysis according to Art Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says the Philippines is the most food-insecure country in developing Asia because of its dependence on imported food.

Esther Beatty, who heads the Cyprus branch of the European Network of the Filipino Diaspora, said Filipinos usually work on Sundays in the Mediterranean island nation as they seek extra income to support relatives back home who struggle to afford such staples. like rice and sugar.

It is assumed that families with lower incomes in developing countries spend more than 40% of the family’s income on food even with government subsidies, said Peter Ceretti, an analyst at Eurasia Group, a consulting firm that tracks food security at risk.

Ali el-Sayed Mohammed, 26, came to the United Arab Emirates in February after years of searching for work in Egypt.

“Life is expensive and the wages are not enough, so I decided to leave,” he said. “It was a difficult decision at first, but the situation left no choice.”

After the death of his father, Mohammed is the breadwinner of the family, supporting his three sisters and mother. He hails from Beheira, a province in the Nile Delta that has been abandoned by many young men who have embarked on the sometimes deadly journeys across the Mediterranean in search of work in Europe.

After saving about $1,000, Mohammed came to Dubai and crashed with friends until he got a job at one of the city’s most popular Egyptian restaurants, Hadoota Masreya.

The rising cost of living in Egypt, however, has made his goal of saving enough to help his sister get married next year or secure his own future even more difficult. Inflation in Egypt rose to about 16% as the value of the currency fell, which makes life is even more difficult for millions of Egyptians living in poverty.

“I have a lot of employees whose families depend on the income they get from the restaurant, and a large part of their income is sent back home so people can live there,” said Mohammed Yunis, manager of Hadoota Masreya.

The restaurant recently raised wages to keep up with rising costs of living, he said.

Younis said an increasing number of Egyptian men are looking for work. Eunice rules a YouTube channel called “Restaurant Clinic” which provides advice in Arabic on how to succeed in the restaurant industry. He warns that moving to the UAE is risky because finding a job takes time and money.

Back in Minnesota, school bus driver Mohamed Aden, 36, says he works as an Uber driver to support his wife, children and siblings who fled Somalia to Kenya because of the violence in his homeland.

Without a work permit in Kenya, his family relies on the money he sends – almost half of his $2,000 monthly salary.

But he pays more for gas and food prices are higher in Kenya, so the money doesn’t go as far.

Aden tries to visit Kenya every December during the cold Minnesota winter.

“I can’t this year because of inflation,” he said. “I’m the only one here, feeding my family…but I’ll be back when I get the money.”

Ahmed reported from Minneapolis, Torrence from New York and Hadjicostis from Nicosia, Cyprus.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, copied or distributed without permission.

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