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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid