This study is based on published sources and grey literature, and informed by the author’s own research with people from Somalia living in the UK (2002–2004). Since the Somali civil war began in 1988, there have been large movements of people from Somalia to neighbouring countries, and unprecedented levels of migration to Europe and North America. Remittances have assumed great importance in this context. Drawing a clear line between formal and informal remittance systems is often difficult. Regulation, supervision and recording may be seen as different dimensions of formality. Legality is another dimension. In the case of Somalia, distinguishing between formal and informal is particularly complex, because the state collapsed in 1991. The current “national” government controls only part of the capital city: it certainly does not regulate, supervise or record remittance flows.
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