Somaliland: UK Government Urged to Intercede Barclays Decision to Suspend Funds Transfer


As a group of practitioners petition the UK government for a reversal of the Barclays decision

Somalilandsun – The UK government is being urged to stop Barclays closing the last account in Somalia which allows its citizens overseas to send money back home.

A group of aid practitioners said the service was a “lifeline” for an estimated 40% of the Somali population which rely on the transfers because of family welfare back home of the estimated 1.5m Somalis living overseas.

Barclays which is the last major British bank to still provide such money transfer services in Somalia said it could only serve firms which had strong anti-financial crime controls.

Its plan to close its account with Dahabshiil – the largest money transfer business providing services to Somalia – on 10 July will cause a crisis for the families which rely on the transfers, the letter signed by over 104 researchers and aid practitioner’s states.

Here is the petition signed by more than 100 academics/practitioners and NGOS urging the British government to intervene:

To Mr Mark Simmonds

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Africa

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

King Charles Street

London SW1A 2AH

Dear Mr Simmonds,

We are writing to request that the UK Government works with British banks to find a durable solution to the recent decision of Barclays to close its accounts with Somali Money Service Businesses (MSBs). Some have already been closed, and the account of Dahabshiil, by far the largest MSB providing services to Somalia, is to be closed as of July 10. With such a short timeframe, and without having provided a comprehensive explanation as to why Barclays wishes to sever its relationships with the MSBs, these companies are understandably finding it very difficult to find new partners to work with.

What is at stake is a lifeline that provides essential support to an estimated 40% of the population of Somalia. Somali MSBs provide fast, reliable and long trusted transmission of funds from the diaspora (estimated at approximately 1.5 million people) to their relatives at home. In addition, many other diaspora groups from the Horn of Africa – in Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan – send remittances to their family members using the same companies.

We are a group of researchers and aid practitioners who regularly engage with the Somali and/or African Diaspora – indeed some of us are ourselves members of that population – and we have seen firsthand the impact that remittances have on preserving the resilience of individuals and communities in the Horn of Africa. Some of us have done in-depth research on the uses of remittance funds. In one such recent study, 73% of remittance recipients said that they use the money they receive from their relatives (averaging $2040 per year) to pay for basic food, education, and medical expenses. One-third of recipients said that they would not be able to afford basic food if the remittances were stopped. Moreover, one-quarter of recipients said that they receive support from a single relative living in the UK.

Not only do Somali MSBs provide essential services to the global Somali community, they also make it possible for international humanitarian and development organisations to provide vital support to Somalis in a country that lacks a more formal public banking system and where war and famine are recurrent visitors. Most of the large relief and development organisations, including the United Nations Development Programme, Oxfam, CARE, and others, use Somali MSBs to pay their staff, procure assistance, and even in some cases to facilitate distribution of cash payments to food-insecure households as part of their cash-for-work schemes. During the famine of 2011, diaspora organisations in the UK, as well as throughout Europe, North America and elsewhere raised millions of dollars in relief assistance, channelling it through MSBs to provide fast and effective life-saving support. All of these activities will be imperilled if Somali MSBs are forced to suspend their operations.

We understand that in recent years there has been a concern about funds going to support individuals and groups who have been designated as terrorists. We think that the best way to work to avoid this is to promote responsible, transparent, and accountable systems in line with existing regulations and Know-Your-Customer standards, rather than by closing down the channels by which funds are sent; this action will only encourage people to send funds through illegal, unsafe, and untraceable channels, thereby potentially making the problem of support to proscribed parties much more serious.

We call on the UK Government to:

– Assist the Somali MSBs in finding alternative banking partners, and to assemble the necessary compliance information needed to demonstrate their accountability to new partners

– Request that Barclays extends its termination deadline for at least 6 months for Somali MSBs so that the flow of remittances through licensed companies is not disrupted, and a more durable solution can be found in the meantime

– Convene a series of multi-stakeholder discussions, beyond Whitehall, that will work on developing the enhanced due diligence that the banks seem to require for this sub-sector of MSBs

In your speech at the Barclays Africa Forum on June 20, you spoke about the need to promote trade and investment in Africa, and the importance of Britain’s role in that process. This position, together with the welcome commitment of the UK government to promote Somalia’s recovery as indicated in the May 2013 London Conference on Somalia, underscores the importance of a resolution of this issue.

As academics, researchers, and people involved in assisting Somalia through relief and development we would be pleased to provide any information we may have that can help to educate people about the remittance industry and the impact of remittances on Somali livelihoods. Please direct any correspondence with signatories of this letter to

Yours sincerely (listed alphabetically),

1. Abdi Aynte, Director, Heritage Institute for Policy Studies, Mogadishu. Somalia

2. Abdi Hassan, Ocean Somali Community Organisation, UK

3. Abdihakim Aynte, Independent Researcher, Mogadishu, Somalia

4. Abdikarin Adan, SPA Wales

5. Abdulkhaliq Khalif, MSc African Studies Candidate, St Anne’s College, University of Oxford, UK

6. Abdurahman Abdullahi (Baadiyow), Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mogadishu University, Mogadishu, Somalia

7. Abdurahman Sharif, Coordinator, BOND CT sub-group, UK

8. Amina Daud, SOS Somali, London, UK

9. Amina Wehelie, Somali Forum, Luton, UK

10. Amun Osman, Independent, Mogadishu, Somalia

11. Anab Nur, Heritage Institute for Policy Studies, Mogadishu, Somalia

12. Anja Simonsen, PhD Candidate, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

13. Dr Anna Lindley, Lecturer, Dept of Development Studies, SOAS-University of London, UK

14. Anna Rader, PhD Candidate, SOAS-University of London

15. Ayan Mohamed, Kaydh Arts Centre, Co-Director, Hargeisa International Book Fair, London, UK

16. Dahir Hassan, CEO, Somali Research and Education Network (SomaliREN), Nairobi, Kenya

17. David Brooks, Somali Society, UK

18. Dr Ceri Oeppen, Lecturer in Geography, Sussex University, UK

19. Dr Edwina Thompson, Independent Expert, Beechwood International, London, UK

20. Dr Hany el Banna OBE, Trustee, Muslim Charities Forum, founder Islamic Relief, London, UK

21. Dr Mark Bradbury, Rift Valley Institute, Nairobi Kenya & London, UK

22. Dr Michael Walls, Lecturer, Development Planning Unit, University College London, UK

23. Dr Nicholas Van Hear, Senior Researcher, Centre on Migration Policy and Society, University of Oxford, UK

24. Dr Simon Addison, Research Associate, Centre of Migration and Diaspora Studies, SOAS-University of London, UK

25. Edna Adan Ismail, Edna Adan University Hospital, Hargeisa. Anglo-Somali Society, Hargeisa, Somaliland

26. Edward Paice, Africa Research Institute, London, UK

27. Ellen De Keyser, Consultant Researcher, UK

28. Emma Lochery, DPhil Candidate, Dept of Politics, University of Oxford, UK

29. Fadumo Dayib, Director, African Diaspora Policy and Development Hub, UK

30. Farhan Hassan, Executive Director, Somali Heritage Academic Network (SHAN) Ltd. , London, UK

31. Dr Francesca Declich, Fulbright Research Scholar, Stanford University, USA

32. Prof Georgi Kapchits, Somali Linguist & Radio Journalist, Moscow, Russia

33. Hamish Wilson, Degmo Centre For Somali Heritage & Rural Life, UK

34. Hannah Elliot, PhD Candidate, Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

35. Dr Hannah Vaughan-Lee, SOAS-University of London, UK

36. Harbi Farah, Council of Somali Organisations, UK

37. Huda Ismail, Halwo Crafts, London, UK

38. Hugh Walker, retired, BBC Somali Service, Anglo-Somali Society, UK

39. Ibrahim Abikar Noor, PhD Candidate, Evaluation Studies, University of Minnesota, USA

40. Ibrahim Farah, University of Nairobi, Kenya

41. Idil Ahmed, United for Somali Students, UK

42. Idil Osman, PhD Candidate, University of Cardiff, Wales

43. Dr Iginio Gagliardone, Oxford Centre for Media Studies, UK

44. Jacob Wiebel, DPhil Candidate in History, St Cross College, University of Oxford, UK

45. Jama Musse Jama, Co-Director, Hargeisa International Book Fair, Pisa, Italy

46. James Cockayne, PhD Candidate, Kings College London, UK

47. James Shaw-Hamilton, Director, The Humanitarian Forum, London, UK

48. James Smith, Independent Consultant/Researcher, Nairobi, Kenya

49. Jason Mosely, Associate, Africa Programme, Chatham House, London, UK

50. Dr Jean Bowyer, Consultant Paediatrician, UK

51. Dr Jill Rutter, Research Manager, Daycare Trust, UK, UK

52. Julianne Weis, DPhil Candidate, History of Medicine, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Oxford, UK

53. Dr Katarzyna Grabska, Associated Research Fellow, Global Migrations Programme, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland

54. Keith Virgo, Anglo-Somali Society, UK

55. Khadar Ahmed Abdi, Consultant & Lecturer, Hargeisa University, Somaliland

56. Dr Laura Hammond, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, SOAS-University of London, UK

57. Dr Laura Mann, Researcher, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, UK

58. Laura Sampath, Global Training Programs Manager, National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), Boston MA, USA

59. Magnus Taylor, Journalist focused on East Africa, London, UK

60. Dr Marta Bivand Erdal, Senior Researcher, Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), Norway

61. Dr Martin Orwin, Dept of Languages, SOAS-University of London, UK

62. Dr Maryann Bylander, Senior Teaching Fellow, Dept of Development Studies, SOAS-University of London, UK

63. Matt Bryden, Director, Sahan Research, Nairobi, Kenya

64. Dr Michael Collyer, Lecturer in Geography, University of Sussex, UK

65. Mohamed Ahmed Ali (Medeshi), Independent

66. Mohamed Hassan, PhD Candidate, Goldsmiths College, UK

67. Mohamed Sharaf Hassan, Masters candidate in International Development, University of Birmingham, UK

68. Mohammed Fadal, Founder, Somaliland Research and Development Institute (SORADI), Hargeisa, Somaliland

69. Mustaf Ibrahim, Tower Hamlets Somali Organisations Network, London, UK

70. Dr Naohiko Omata, Research Officer, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, UK

71. Dr Nasir Warfa, Senior Lecturer & Deputy Director, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary, University of London, UK

72. Dr Nauja Kleist, Danish Institute of International Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark

73. Dr Neil Carrier, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford, UK

74. Dr Nicole Stremlau, Oxford Centre for Media Studies, UK

75. Nimo-Ilhan Ali, PhD Candidate, SOAS-University of London, UK

76. Dr Nisar Majid, Independent Consultant and Dept of Politics, University of Bristol, UK

77. Nuur Mohamud Sheekh, Programme Coordinator, Nairobi Forum, Rift Valley Institute, Nairobi, Kenya

78. Dr Oliver Bakewell, Co-Director, International Migration Institute, University of Oxford, UK

79. Omer Ahmed, Anglo-Somali Society, UK

80. Prof Abdi Samatar, Geography, University of Minnesota, USA

81. Prof Barbara E. Harrelll-Bond, OBE, Emerita Professor & Senior Associate, Refugee Studies Centre; Honorary Fellow, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, UK

82. Prof Christopher Clapham, Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge, UK

83. Prof Christopher M. Cramer, Political Economy & Development, SOAS-University of London, UK

84. Prof David M. Anderson, African History, University of Warwick, UK

85. Prof JoAnn McGregor, Geography, University College London, UK

86. Prof Ken Menkhaus, Political Science, Davidson College, UK

87. Prof Lidwien Kaptjeins, Kendall/Hodder Professor of History & Chair, History Dept and Middle Eastern Studies Programme, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA USA

88. Prof Marja Tiilikainen, Visiting Professor, Dept of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Canada

89. Prof Peter Little, Chair of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

90. Prof Roger Ballard, Director, Centre for Applied South Asian Studies, UK

91. Rakiya Omaar, Rift Valley Institute, Nairobi Kenya and London, UK

92. Dr Richard Reid, Dept of History, SOAS-University of London, UK

93. Robin Le Mare, Anglo-Somali Society, UK

94. Roger Middleton, Senior Programme Manager, Somalia Conflict Dynamics International, Nairobi, Kenya

95. Safia Aateeye, Somali Forum, Luton, UK

96. Safia Yahy, AMEB Mother and Child Care, UK

97. Sagal Osman, Good Effort for Health and Well-being, London, UK

98. Sahra Abdullaahi, Somali Forum Luton, UK

99. Saynab Mahamud, Hawa’s Haven, London, UK

100. Dr Sebastiana Etzo, Researcher, Centre of African Studies, University of London, UK

101. Siham Rayale, PhD Candidate, SOAS-University of London, UK

102. Tuemay Aregawi, AML/CFT Researcher, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

103. Zakia Hussen, Researcher, Heritage Institute for Policy Studies, Mogadishu, Somalia

104. Zaynab Warsame, C Galool, Home of Somali Education, UK


Mr David Lewis, Head of Anti-Money-Laundering and Terrorist Finance Policy and Sanctions and Illicit Finance, HM Treasury

Mr Daniel Fearn, Head of Somalia Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Ms Claire Innes, Private Sector Development Team, DFID

Mr Antony Jenkins, Group Chief Executive, Barclays plc

Ms Catharine French, Chief of Staff, Barclays plc

Somali Money Services Association (SOMSA)

Somali American Money Services Association (SAMSA)