With a federal government shakily holding on to power in Mogadishu and violence significantly reduced, Somalia and the EU co-host a conference of international donors in Brussels today, intended to chart a new course to peace and prosperity.
But on 30 September, those hopeful prospects will be thrown into jeopardy when Barclays closes the accounts of 250 Somali money transfer services, including Dahabshiil, which is much the biggest of the lot.
Barclays initially announced, in a letter to Dahabshiil and others dated 8 May, that the accounts would be closed on 30 July. It wrote: “Acceptance and eligibility criteria have been amended for customers in this sector, which unfortunately means we will no longer be able to provide banking services to businesses that fall outside of these.”
For the international aid community, the severing of the remittance pipeline threatens to spark a new Somali emergency. And the effect on the agencies is even more direct than that, because in the absence of banks, they depend on the MTOs to funnel aid money to their Somali projects. The vast majority of them, including Oxfam, Care International and World Vision, use Dahabshiil, as does the United Nations.