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Charcoal smuggling is the means of Al-Shabaab substantial revenues in southern Somalia despite the presence of African Union military bases in the area.

These military installations at the ports of Kismayo and Buur Gabo are maintained by Kenyan forces operating under the auspices of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).

The United Nations report has revealed UN monitors were “not assisted by Amisom” when they attempted to inspect charcoal stockpiles and port facilities at Kismayo in July of this year, the new report points out.

Shabaab makes at least $7.5 million from “taxation” at checkpoints in the Middle Juba and Lower Juba regions, according to the analysis by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea.

Due in part to these charcoal-related profits, Shabaab “generates more than enough revenue to sustain its insurgency,” the monitors say.

The regional Jubaland administration is also said to profit from the charcoal trade, which is prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions.

“Investigations by the Group have determined that these illicit charcoal exports have been taxed by the Jubaland administration at an average rate of more than $5 per bag, generating more than $15 million in annual revenue for Jubaland,” states the report reviewed by the Security Council on Wednesday.

With an estimated three million bags of charcoal smuggled last year from Somalia, the total value of the illicit trade is put at $150 million annually, based on a wholesale price of $50 per bag in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Criminal networks based in Dubai, the UAE and Kismayo garner a large share of that sum, the UN group notes.


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