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Vital lifeline to millions of Somalis could be cut off by December 30, 2011

The Somali American Money Services Association (SAMSA)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Minneapolis, MN, December 27, 2011 - The Somali American Money Services Association (SAMSA) is very concerned about the Sunrise Community Bank?s decision to close the bank accounts of its Somali American Money Services customers who are legally licensed and regulated to do business on remittances. This decision could totally cut off the only means that the Somali Americans have to provide vital support to their loved ones in Somalia. Now more than ever, remittances to Somalia are crucial because of the severe humanitarian crisis in Somalia.

Remittance is an essential lifeline for the Somali people and it is the only source of funding that sustains the livelihood of millions of Somalis, mostly women and children. Average remittance transaction is $100 to $200. Millions of Somalis depend on their family members in the U. S. for food, shelter, water, and other basic human needs.

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Remittance Operators are by far the main facilitators of aid and development funds for Somalia. In addition to the needy Somalis, the Somali Government, International NGOs, UN, and US-AID use Remittance Operators to conduct their operations in Somalia.

SAMSA members believe that their businesses have been singled out and denied vital banking services that virtually no Money Service Business can operate without.  SAMSA members are fully compliant with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations including all relevant provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act and the USA Patriot Act. SAMSA members are positive forces who significantly contribute towards peaceful Somalia by investing in Somalia and by creating jobs here in the U.S.

SAMSA members believe that the Sunrise Community Bank?s decision to close their bank accounts will result in a worsening of the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. At a time when President Barack Obama has boosted the U.S government?s emergency aid to the Horn of Africa by $113 million, cutting more than $100 million every year that the Somali Americans send their families will adversely impact the already fragile situation in Somalia and push millions to poverty. In addition, such action threatens the window of opportunity for a stable Somalia and the efforts of building an economy that offers alternative opportunities for unemployed youth in Somalia to prevent them from resorting to criminal activities including terrorism and piracy.

SAMSA requests that the Sunrise Community Bank reconsiders its decision and extends the December 30, 2011 deadline to allow for more talks with the regulatory agencies in order to find a viable solution to address its concern.

SAMSA urges the U.S Treasury to take a serious look at the issue of concern in the interest of all the stakeholders and work with the U.S. banks to save this vital lifeline which gives services to Somali Americans and their loved ones in Somalia. In addition, SAMSA urges the elected officials and other U.S government agencies including the State Department to continue their push toward finding a lasting solution to this crisis.  SAMSA is committed to serving the communities here in the U.S and in Somalia in legal and transparent manners.

SAMSA is grateful to the incredible support of the elected officials, various government agencies, non-profit organizations, the Somali government, and the Somali people.



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