U.S. sanctions affect remittances to Somalia

Apr 04, 2017

With $1.4 billion remittances into Somalia in 2015, accounting for 23 percent of GDP, remittances play a significant role in the economy and livelihood of Somalis.

Following new measures imposed on Somalia by the U.S. government, it has become difficult for Somali living in the U.S. to remit money to families in Somalia. With $1.4 billion remittances into Somalia in 2015, accounting for 23 percent of GDP, remittances play a significant role in the economy and livelihood of Somalis. About 2.5 million Somalis depend on remittances from their families in the diaspora, particularly in the U.S. and Europe. A dollar remitted to Somalia from the U.S. can buy a kilo of rice for a family while a family of eight can feed on $100-$150 remitted by a Somalia migrant in the US. Decrying the situation, Asma Ahmed, a mother-of-eight from north central Somalia affected by the drought said "we lost all our livestock in the region and, shockingly, my family in America tells me they can't send money home because of restrictions." Some Somalis living in the U.S. have disclosed that money transfer operators in the U.S. have closed up shop, while others said they have to limit their transactions to $700 monthly to avoid suspicion from the authority. Due to a weak financial system, the U.S. government has been advising the country on ways to improve the financial institutional framework to ensure funds are not channelled towards financing terror activities. Since last year, efforts are being made by the Somali government in collaboration with the World Bank to resolve key issues affecting the nation's financial sector.