THOUSANDS of Somalis living in Hounslow will be affected if Barclays pulls the plug on the last companies enabling them to send money home to loved ones, it has been warned.
Nearly 2,800 people from the west African nation live in the borough, according to the 2011 Census, but the true figure is believed to be much higher.
Many of them rely on money transfer services to send cash to relatives in the impoverished country - money which, in some cases, could be the difference between life and death.
But Barclays plans to close the accounts of some 80 UK money transfer companies serving some of the world's poorest countries - including Dahabshiil and three smaller firms operating between the UK and Somalia.
Hounslow Somali Community, which represents Somalis living in the borough, has warned the move could have dire consequences for the country's poorest people.
Mohamed Said, a spokesman for the group, said he used the service himself, like thousands of people in Hounslow, to send money home to his 24-year-old half-sister Fadumo.
"Hundreds of thousands of families across Somalia and Somaliland are relying on money from remittances each month to make ends meet so this could have a devastating impact," he said.
Barclays claims it is closing Dahabshiil's and other firms' accounts after a review raised concerns about the measures in place to prevent financial crimes.
A spokeswoman for Barclays said it had given all four Somali companies extra time, until the end of September, to find alternative banking services.
The Somali Money Services Association (SOMSA) said there were 16 such money transfer companies operating but 12 had already seen their accounts closed by other banks for similar reasons.
A spokesman for the organisation insisted the firms already had strong financial controls in place but were happy to make any changes deemed necessary.
Hounslow's favourite adopted son, double Olympic champion Mo Farah, who was born in Somalia and grew up in the UK, has backed calls for Barclays to review its decision, which he said could mean 'life or death to millions of Somalis'.
Feltham & Heston MP Seema Malhotra helped delivered a 25,500-signature petition to Downing Street on Wednesday (August 7), calling on the Government to work with Barclays and regulators to help save money transfer services.
She called for at least a six-month delay in the accounts being closed, saying: "Risks of money laundering are critical to address, but so are the needs of hundreds of local families."