Hawala’s closure hits Somalis hard

hawala customers

PERPLEXED: Customers in front of a closed money transfer company in Eastleigh, Nairobi, yesterday. They could not send or receive money.Photo/Adow Mohamed

By Adow Mohamed – The Star

HUNDREDS of Somalis are reeling from the effects of the indefinite suspension of informal money transfer systems by the government.

They thronged Hawala offices to send or receive money, but services remained suspended, in compliance with the government order on Wednesday.

The ripple effect was so devastating for many, whose only source of livelihood is monthly remittances from relatives abroad.

They included women with children strapped on their backs, old men and women. Some were making frantic calls to relatives informing them of the suspension.

Staring at notices of closure fixed on doors, Some said they were not aware of the closure.

Abdulkadir Saney, who was expecting $200 (Sh18,000) from his sister in the United Kingdom, said he was shocked.

“I cannot access the money. Why would a government victimise the helpless for the crimes of a few?” he said.

Abdiwahab Ali, 65, said shutting the services is the “last nail on their coffins”.

“We support any move by the government to maintain security and fight terrorism, but such moves must not be blanket. What are we supposed to do now?” he said.

Ali said the crackdown will fuel anger and increase criminality by engaging in “underground” money transfer methods hidden from scrutiny.

The suspension is likely to cut vital lifeline to thousands of Somalis, who are mainly refugees and cannot access formal banking systems.

Somalis send billions of dollars to their relatives in Kenya and the Horn of Africa via the Hawala system.

Halima Hussein said her children will drop out of school if the government does not rescind its decision.

“The suspension means we will not get monthly remittances from relatives in Minnesota to pay school fees and buy food,” she said.

Halima said although her husband is unemployed, they have never sought assistance.




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