Oxfam response to Justine Greening announcing new aid package to Somalia

16th Sep 2013

In response to Justine Greening announcing £50m in aid to Somalia, Oxfam's Head of Policy, Max Lawson, said:

"While we welcome the UK government's support to Somalia, there is a paradox at the heart of its policy. On the one hand the aid pledge is generous and its continued commitment to the country is important.  On the other hand it is not doing enough to halt the closures of accounts that allow Somalis to send money from abroad worth a quarter of the country's economy.  The £860 million a year sent by Somalis abroad dwarfs the level of foreign aid to the country.

"At the end of September, Barclays will close the last regulated accounts used for transfers from Somalis living in the UK. This will make transfers more difficult and more expensive, and risks driving them underground, threatening to undermine the UK Government's support for the country.
 
"The UK Government must urgently work with the banks and money transfer operators to clarify regulations associated with these services. While a solution is found, Barclays must extend its deadline for closure of accounts. The UK government need to create an environment which encourages banks to offer these services and helps Somalis lead the reconstruction of their homeland."

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Grace Cahill on +44 7582 500 903 / +44 1865 473415 / gcahill@oxfam.org.uk