News / Africa

Millions of Charcoal Sacks Clutter Somali Town

Sacks of dark charcoal sit atop one another in Somalia's southern port city of Kismayo, an industry once worth some $25 million dollar a year to al-Qaida-linked insurgents, Oct. 30, 2012.
Sacks of dark charcoal sit atop one another in Somalia's southern port city of Kismayo, an industry once worth some $25 million dollar a year to al-Qaida-linked insurgents, Oct. 30, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
— In the Somali port of Kismayo, local residents and business community leaders are calling on the United Nations Security Council to lift a ban on charcoal export so they can clear out several million sacks lying on the road between the new Kismayo International airport and the city center. 
 
The U.N. monitoring group on Somalia and Eritrea said the al-Qaida linked group al-Shabab earned up to $25 million from the charcoal trade last year when they controlled Kismayo.

According to the investigators, the militant group levied taxes at every stage of the charcoal from production to export.  Due to that, in February this year the U.N. enacted the ban in a bid to weaken al-Shabab financially.

Hassan Awlibah, the chairman of Kismayo's business community, said Somalis have been working in the charcoal trade even before al-Shabab came to power. 

He says the Somali people have been working in the charcoal trade for a long time and he says the situation had forced people to cut down trees when they didn’t have a government and they were hungry.  

Today the charcoal ban, aimed at weakening al-Shabab, is still in effect and as you drive through Kismayo’s southern entrance you see more than four million sacks laying on both sides of the road. The charcoal is worth up to an estimated $40 million.

Awlibah says Somali businessmen have invested heavily in the charcoal trade and he believes the international community is punishing them by not allowing them to export the charcoal.
 
He says we think all these people in the international community have agreed to make the business people, who have invested in charcoal, poor.  He says if they are looking for a solution to the charcoal menace they can give us a period of time so that we can export the charcoal.   Awlibah says we don’t want to see people cutting down trees any more, but what we want first is to help the people that invested in the charcoal trade.

According to Kismayo authorities more than 5,000 people work in the charcoal trade.

A temporary 12-member committee that is operating Kismayo's port notes that dozens of empty ships have been docked waiting for the ban to be lifted so that they can transport the charcoal.

The committee is run by Ahmed Madobe, leader of the Ras Kamboni militia, which helped to liberate Kismayo from al-Shabab,   Madobe says if the ban is not lifted, a new wave of violence could break out, and the public could turn against against the African Union (AU) forces that now control Kismayo. 

He says the charcoal ban can bring insecurity.  He says there is no other life here that the people know and they have poured all their wealth into the charcoal business.  Madobe says this can result in problems and insecurity for the people of Kismayo and for the AU forces.  

Local official Hassan Ilmi Mooge told VOA the international community has to help to revive other sectors in the area like farming, fishing and the livestock trade.
 
He says since the international community banned the charcoal trade they haven’t given us any other other way of surviving.  He says there is no farming taking place here and no export of livestock so there is nothing coming to the people.  Mooge says they have even cut all the humanitarian assistance they used to provide to us.  He says for four years we were under huge pressure from al-Shabab and no aid agency came to help us.

For close to five years al-Shabab controlled the port city and banned the international humanitarian agencies from operating in areas under its control.

Local businessmen in Kismayo now have to convince the international community they don't have ideological links to al-Shabab and above all, that they don’t support the group's terror activities in the country.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Pedro from: USA
December 07, 2012 11:51 AM
I couldnt say who was cutting trees, when...to make charcoal...

It would be nice to know what is the framework and issues contemplated in decision by UN


by: Anthony
December 07, 2012 8:56 AM
You definitely over use 'he says' as a writer, you should know better.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid