Somali remittances, which are sent through money transfer operations (MTOs), have been the subject of much scrutiny since 9/11. Members of the Somali diaspora rely on MTOs to send money (thought to total $1.2 billion a year) to their families and extended kin in Somalia, which, until recently, had no central monetary authority. These operations, in turn, rely on the banking facilities of large international banks. Yet MTOs have faced closures due to accusations they they serve as vehicles for laundering money and financing terrorism. Largely absent from debates over Somali remittance flows, however, is the issue of corruption within some of the world’s most powerful multinational banks and international financial institutions.
In Israel, particularly acute demographic pressures have been compounded by economic anxieties and unspoken and overt forms of racism to create an especially intractable situation for African refugees and asylum seekers. And the construction of a detention center in the Negev weighs heavily in a country that was born out of the failures of other nations to provide asylum during World War II. But do the contradictions of Israeli nationalism simply refract a more pervasive problem: that asylum may be impossible for more than a small minority in any system of nation-states?