Somalia condemns UK trade restrictions

Somali president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (L), with William Hague in front of the British embassy in Mogadishu in April.

Somali™s ambassador to London has condemned the UK government for ordering Barclays Bank to halt trading with remittance firms in Somalia, thus adding to serious humanitarian problems back in the African nation.

Ali Abdullahi blamed Foreign Secretary William Hague for failing to take the problem œseriously enough”, saying that millions of Somalis who receive money through relatives working abroad would lose their sources of income by the apartheid decision.

Barclays has been the last major UK bank to provide money transfer services to Somalia, sending an estimated £1.5bn to the country each year through remittance companies. However, it has stopped the procedure citing the government™s concerns that the money could fall into the hands of terror groups such as al-Shabaab.

“I hope the UK government will make Barclays understand the seriousness of the situation and how important this is to the Somalis who rely on their family for money. Stopping it will push them to desperate measures… at least keep the operation transparent so we can monitor the money”, Abdullahi told The Independent on Sunday.

Barclays claimed it has made the decision before the attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which was claimed by terrorist group al-Shabaab. It cited a £1.2bn fine imposed on HSBC earlier for being abused by Mexican drug cartels for money-laundering, claiming that the decision was made to protect it from any penalty.

“Barclays are not worried about the humanitarian repercussions… for them, it’s purely commercial”, said Sulekha Hassan, the director of the Somalia SOS charity.

She warned that halting remittances was contradictory to British foreign policy, and could be used by al-Shabaab for political gain. “We don’t want to give these people an inch in a country that is still fragile,” she said.

Dahabshiil, one of four Somali money transfer firms, filed a case for an injunction before London’s High Court. It was adjourned for a fortnight last week and Barclays said it will wait until 15 October to stop payments.

MOL/HE

Copyright: Press TV