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.
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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More