While every 6 minutes a child dies in Somali for a famine, according to the USAid website, three locally owned banks Franklin Bank, Park Midway Bank, and University Bank headquartered in Minneapolis and Saint Paul decided to stop serving all the Somali owned Hawala Banks in Minnesota by December 15, 2011.
Hawala as it is known is an alternative remittance system that is based on the performance and honor of a huge network of money brokers who would ensure that funds were delivered to family members inside Somalia or in refugee camps in the Horn of Africa. For Somalis Hawala Banks started as a way for them to send cash back to their extended families in Somalia while fleeing poverty, repression, anarchy and, more recently famine.To the Somali community here in Minnesota which this issue would affect them and their loved once in Somalia, use it in a way to support their relatives back home in Somalia a country ravaged by 2 decades of civil war and famine.
The reasons cited in the letter sent by Sunrise Community Banks which is a family owned banking group comprised of three locally owned and managed banks Franklin Bank, Park Midway Bank, and University Bank is that they feared money sent thru the Hawala Banks might be used to fund terrorist activities in Somalia and gave sample as two Minnesota women recently convicted of funneling money to terror group in Somalia
According to a UN report and USAid 4 million people are in crisis in Somalia and 750,000 people including 29,000 children have died after what is said to be East Africa’s worst drought for 60 years. Nearly 800,000 Somalis are displaced in the region – Kenya (423,000) Yemen (188,000), Ethiopia (140,000), while others are in Uganda, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea and Tanzania.
Last week the United Nations has said famine was easing in three of the worst-affected areas of Somalia following the intervention of aid from Somali diaspora, aid agencies and rainfall.
A survey conducted by UNDP estimated that more than a quarter of families in Somalia receive remittances from abroad. Remittance companies, being the sole international financial institutions operating in Somalia, are a lifeline for many Somali families both in Somalia and in the Horn of Africa.
Nomad Times is Somali news portal/blog and SPR content partner.