Somali remittances: It's about justice, not charity

If Barclays cut this service both Somalis and the Somali state will suffer

Share
Related Topics

To have a family member in need is distressing enough. When they are thousands of miles away it’s even worse. When a company removes the vital economic lifeline with which you can help them, it is a tragedy.

This is what’s happening to people in Somalia right now. Next week, Barclays Bank will stop a vital money transfer service which could hit up to 40 per cent of the Somali population. Barclays has said that it will be closing the accounts of hundreds of small Money Transfer Operators (MTOs) - meaning that there will be almost no opportunity for the Somali diaspora around the world to transfer money to families, friends and charities in the country.

The impact of this action will be profound and devastating. My wife’s 80 year old grandmother, Khadija, relies heavily on the money we send via MTOs. She is frail and vulnerable and lives in a remote part of Somalia.  The money we send pays for the food, clothing, rent and the health care treatment she needs to survive.

We send my uncle $100 per month to pay for his care in a in a mental health centre in Hargaysa; $100 is for two orphans’ life essentials,  $200 is for my cousin’s food, clothes and school fees. Like many Somalis living overseas, we also send money to charitable infrastructure projects such as building hospitals and roads. Without the ability to transfer money back home, it’s hard to see how they will be able to afford to live.

My Change.org petition calling on Barclays to reconsider their decision has reached 90,000 supporters. I am overwhelmed by the support  but not surprised. The British people have an incredible history of helping those in need: when UK charities launched a fundraising appeal to help those affected by the famine in Somalia, UK citizens responded with millions of pounds of essential aid.

This time the people of Somalia are not asking for charity - we are asking for justice. Barclays has to realise its responsibility here. It is not enough to claim that they are concerned about the destination of remittances - they must look at how they can introduce the the checks and balances needed to keep the service active to a country where three million people live in poverty and 2.4 million need urgent humanitarian assistance. Others have made strong progress in ensuring that remittances are not channelled into terrorism and corruption.

British Olympic hero Mo Farah has this week made a last ditch plea to Barclays to think again about cutting this service which has provided not only the basics of life to countless Somalis, but the building blocks of growth in a country that desperately needs it. With a collapsed banking system and political instability in the country, the one billion dollars that Somalis around the world send to loved ones back home is not just important - it’s a matter of life and death. Tens of thousands of people agree with us and are contacting Barclays to ask them why they are removing this essential lifeline to a country in real need. I hope that Antony Jenkins, Barclays CEO, listens to their call.

Farhan Hassan is a freelance researcher and Executive Director of the Somali Heritage Academic Network.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photo Booth Host

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Director / Operations Director

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Freeman, centre, with Lord Gladwyn, left, and Harold Wilson on the programme The Great Divide in 1963  

John Freeman was a man of note who chose to erase himself from history

Terence Blacker
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Mr. Cameron is beginning to earn small victories in Europe

Andrew Grice
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'