Residents of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Thursday condemned as “collective punishment” Kenya’s shutting down of money transfer services to the country over suspected links to the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab.
Kenya on Wednesday froze key transfer companies vital for impoverished Somalia, as part of a crackdown on alleged Al-Shabab supporters following the university massacre of almost 150 people by militants last week.
“It is a bad decision that collectively punishes the Somali people,” said Abdisalim Mohamed, a resident in Mogadishu.
“It is already affecting me directly, because I cannot get money and help from my daughter, who has a business in Kenya.”
With no formal banking system in the impoverished country, diaspora Somalis use money transfer services to send cash back home to support their families, sending some $1.3 billion (1.1 billion euros) each year, dwarfing foreign aid.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday warned Al-Shabab fighters his government would respond to the killing of 148 people at the university in Garissa in the “severest way” possible, with warplanes on Monday attacking Al-Shabab bases in southern Somalia.
But Kenyatta also warned that the masterminds behind last Thursday’s attack were inside Kenya, not Somalia.
Somalis, like Kenyans, are struggling to combat the Al-Shabab — and now they say Nairobi’s decision is harming them.
“It is sad that the same people who are victims of Al-Shabab here, are also being punished because of Al-Shabab,” said Samira Hussein, a mother of five who works in Somalia, but whose husband and children are in Kenya.