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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice