Kenyan soldiers failing to enforce ban on Shabaab charcoal exports, says UN
Kenyan soldiers assigned to the African Union Mission in Somalia are failing to enforce a ban on charcoal exports by Al-shabaab, a team of United Nations monitors has said.
The terrorist group earns at least $10 million (Sh1 billion) a year by shipping charcoal through ports in southern Somalia, where Kenya Defence Forces units are stationed, according to the monitors.
“Amisom, whose Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) contingents remain at the ports of Kismayo and Buur Gaabo, has neither assisted the Somali authorities in implementing the charcoal ban nor facilitated the Monitoring Group access to charcoal exporting ports,” the officials say in a new report.
The document further says poor implementation of the five-year-old UN Security Council ban “enables Al-shabaab financing and undermines counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts in Somalia”.
To show Al-shabaab’s continuing ability to thwart counter-insurgency efforts, the UN team cited an attack on a KDF base at Kulbiyow on the Kenya-somalia border that resulted in the death of at least 67 Kenyan soldiers.
Al-shabaab attacks have also claimed the lives of many civilians and police officers within Kenya in the past two years.
This is not the first time UN experts have claimed KDF’S non-compliance with the charcoal export ban.
The UN’S Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group last year said Kenyan troops assigned to Amisom were receiving $2 (Sh206) per bag of charcoal illegally shipped from the port of Kismayo. According to the 2016 document, Kenyan forces’ collusion in the illicit trade may have brought them $12 million (Sh1.2 billion) in proceeds.
The January attack on KDF’S Kulbiyow base also resulted in alshabaab’s capture of weaponry that included a 105mm howitzer, an armoured personnel carrier, an 81mm mortar launcher and a heavy machinegun, according to the new report.
Al-shabaab is further said to have used more powerful 120mm mortars, likely to have been seized from an Amisom Burundian base in 2015, in an April attack on a joint Ugandasomali National Army base at Baledogle. Weapons of that calibre represent “a new and significant threat to peace and security in Somalia”, the report warns.
Sh1bn Amount Al-shabaab terrorists rake in a year from charcoal exports, according to UN monitors
The UN team said FBI laboratory analyses had shown that the insurgents are now using an ingredient in fertiliser to make vehicle-borne bombs.
“The potential use of homemade explosives by al-shabaab would allow the group to rely less on harvesting explosives from munitions, which is slow and laborious,” said the monitoring team.
Additional weapons are being illegally imported into Somalia through the country’s Puntland region aboard dhows sailing from Yemen and the Makran coast of Iran.
Kenyan soldiers under the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) patrol Afmadow town in 2015. The UN wants Kenyan soldiers to enforce a ban on charcoal exports by Al-shabaab.