Somaliland: Human Rights Group Petition PM David Cameroon on Barclays Accounts Closure

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Barclays bank threatens MSB Account closureSomalilandsun -URGENT APPEAL FROM SOMALI/SOMALILAND CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS, HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENTS’ CALLS FOR HELP FROM UK GOV. TO KEEP REMITTANCES FLOWING FROM BRITAIN

To: H.E. David Camaroon

UK Prime Minister

To: Mr Mark Simmonds MP

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Africa

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

King Charles Street

London SW1A 2AH

To: Mr Neil Wigan

UK Ambassador to Somali

Dear Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned, the pro-democratic movements in Somaliland/Somalia and Somali Diaspora communities around the globe, wish to express our deep concerns to the recent decision of British Bank of Barclays to close its accounts with Somali Money Service Businesses (MSBs). Some have already been closed, and the account of ‘Dahabshiil’ the largest MSB providing services to Somalia, by far, is to be closed soon.

At least 10 million Somalis – many in need of urgent lifesaving assistance – face a potential cut-off of aid from abroad from family members as the UK bank plans to close money-wiring services next month. The key issue is the damage to flow of cash to the vulnerable Somali people, who depend on remittances for their livelihood; and the likely dire consequences the move shall have on Somalis and Somalia, where no alternatives to the money service businesses exist.

The Somali/Somaliland civil society groups, Human Rights Defenders and Pro-democracy Movements’ strongly believe that the Barclays bank service is a major lifeline for Somalis and is the only one offering this service. UK based Somali Diaspora face being left without any means to help their families survive through the current humanitarian crisis.

We, the Somali/Somaliland civil society groups, Human Rights Defenders and Pro-democracy Movements’ are highly praised the leading role taken by UK government to help rebuild Somalia, on the other hand, we are seriously worried, that without the services of these money transfer organizations, Somalis living in the diaspora throughout the UK and Europe will not be able to send desperately needed support home to their relatives. This will have immediate and severe humanitarian implications and the Barclays’ decision to cease its financial wiring services with MBS to Somalia 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, and more worse it may have negative impact to efforts provided by the world community for stabilizing and development of the country.

We are joining the appeal sent to UK Government and Barclays leaders by the President of Federal Government of Somali H. E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, who said “Some of the world’s poorest people depend on remittances sent to them from the Somali diaspora. At the end of the vast majority of cash transfers supported by Barclays Bank, are families and children whose struggle through each day is unimaginable to most. We need time and support from the UK Government to resolve this issue, or the sad reality is that an “regrettable inconvenience” could directly result in human tragedy.”

We are argue the Somali Community in UK to come together and work with the elected officials and Barclays bank authorities to resolve this matter effectively. Remittance businesses are the financial lifelines for millions of Somalis struggling to cope with the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in 60 years and decades of civil conflict. An estimated $2 Billion Dollars—one third of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Somalia and more than the annual donor contributions is channeled to Somalia through remittances by Somalis in the Diaspora to support their relatives back home. Closing remittances will alienate and marginalize Somalis in the Diaspora and their needy families inside and outside Somalia.

We humbly – and most sincerely – request the UK Government to keep Somali remittances flowing from UK, which is home to a large population of Somali migrants, and that Dahabshiil should be rewarded for its strict compliance procedures. If not the signal to shady dealers will be doubtless loud and clear – a consequence that the international community and Somalis do not wish to see happen.

CC: Nicholas Kay, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia,

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

Hectors Sants, Head of Compliance, Barclays plc

Yours sincerely

This petition was indorsed by following civil society and human rights organizations groups operating in Somalia/Somaliland, civil society and human rights groups.

List of Signatories

List of Signatories

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