Allow Somalis to help their families

Banks should compromise instead of refusing money-transfers to Somalia.

by Daily Editorial Board

Last Friday about 100 people protested at a Minneapolis Wells Fargo branch that refuses to help Somali money transfers. Several banks are refusing to work with these money-transfer businesses, known as hawalas, after two Rochester, Minn., women were recently convicted of sending money to the terrorist group al-Shabaab in Somalia. While sending money to a terrorist group is obviously unacceptable and unlawful, the bankâÄôs refusal to help any Somali transfer money is more harmful than helpful. Many Somalis living in Minnesota save money each month to send home to their families in Somalia. Most of these families depend on that cash to survive and struggle without it, which is why it is so important to allow these money transfers to continue. Dozens of Somalis closed their accounts with the Minneapolis Wells Fargo to protest the bankâÄôs refusal to allow them to help their families at home. While the bank is merely avoiding risk, itâÄôs more important to help those families struggling to survive back in Somalia, where there are few jobs and a barely functioning government. Wells Fargo and other banks that are trying to avoid sending money to the wrong people by completely refusing money transfers should reconsider their plan of action. Instead of refusing all hawala business, banks should try other safeguards like limiting the amount of money transferred each month, which is what one Minneapolis money-transferring business has done for its customers. Tawakal Money Express allows only small dollar amounts to be transferred, which is a better compromise than total refusal. There are families in need in Somalia and we should allow those in the U.S. to continue helping their faraway families survive.