News / Africa

Somalis Worry Remittances at Risk as Cutoff Deadline Passes

A Somali man collects his money at a Dahabshiil money transfer office in southern Mogadishu, May 8, 2013.A Somali man collects his money at a Dahabshiil money transfer office in southern Mogadishu, May 8, 2013.
x
A Somali man collects his money at a Dahabshiil money transfer office in southern Mogadishu, May 8, 2013.
A Somali man collects his money at a Dahabshiil money transfer office in southern Mogadishu, May 8, 2013.
Gabe Joselow
British bank Barclays had set a Wednesday deadline for suspending business with wire transfer services operating in Somalia, threatening a major source of money for citizens in the country. The bank gave extensions to many of the companies, but Somali residents worry about what they will do if and when their financial lifelines are cut.
 
Money transfer in Somalia is big business. The United Nations estimates the country receives $1.2 billion each year through remittances sent from overseas, which is helping the country rebuild from decades of civil war.
 
But last month, Barclays said it would terminate the accounts of wire transfer companies operating in Somalia, out of concern that some of the money could be diverted to fund terrorism.
 
July 10 was initially set as the deadline for the cutoff to take effect, but Barclays granted extensions, giving companies time to find alternative banks.
 
A representative of one of the biggest firms, Dahabshiil in Mogadishu, said business carried on as usual Wednesday.

Vital lifeline
 
But citizens, like Abdulahi Ali, a father of seven with family in Britain, remain concerned about an impending shutdown.
 
“The remittances we get through Dahabshiil are helpful for us,” he said, “especially during Ramadan. We are sad to hear that it will be affected by the closure.”
 
Many of the money transfers coming to Somalia go through the alternative hawala brokerage system, which adheres to Islamic banking codes, but does not always maintain extensive records of transactions like some of the bigger wire services.
 
In announcing its decision last month, Barclays said some money service businesses do not have “proper checks in place” and that they could “therefore unwittingly be facilitating money laundering and terrorist financing.”
 
Banks in the United States have also stopped money transfers to Somalia, out of concern they would be in violation of U.S. law against financing terrorism, the main target in Somalia being the al-Qaida-linked group al-Shabab.
 
But Isse Gurey, another Mogadishu resident with relatives in Britain, said the decision to restrict transfers will hurt families instead.
 
"This is really tough for us,” he said, “since we need the money from our family members for our livelihoods and for all our needs. Dahabshiil represents our lifeline and we want the decision to close the accounts reversed.”
 
Aid organizations are calling for an alternative to a shutdown, as many of the non-governmental organizations working in Somalia, as well as the United Nations, rely on money transfers through companies like Dahabshiil to pay local staff.

You May Like

US States Where Women Work for Free

Women earn less than men in all 50 states More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death Against IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs