Somalia: Charcoal Business Is the Main Cause of Deforestation

Charcoal illicit export business in Somalia is the main cause of deforestation in a country that is already hardly stricken by climate crisis.

KISMAYO, Somalia ― Kismayo’s southern entrance is flanked by pile after vast pile of charcoal, bagged and stacked in towering blocks on either side of the asphalt road. These stalled shipments now threaten to undermine hopes of a lasting peace in Somalia.

The illicit charcoal business in Somalia involves massive cutting of trees and deforestation and destruction of indigenous people’s environment and inflicting devastating life impact upon indigenous communities that include both nomads and traditional hunters. This illicit process makes millions of profits for terrorist organizations like Al-shabab and for Somalia most notorious warlords e.g., Sheikh Ahmed Madoobe who rules the so-called Juba+Land regional state in southern Somalia, with iron fist.

The UN Security Council has noted on several occasions that ‘charcoal exports from Somalia are a significant revenue source for Al Shabaab and also exacerbate the humanitarian crises. Recent estimates by the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea are that upwards of 40% of Al Shabaab’s funding comes from various forms of involvement with the illegal Somali charcoal trade.

Kenyan soldiers fighting Al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia have become part of a charcoal and sugar smuggling cartel that earns them about $50 million (Sh5.1 billion) a year, a rights group said in a report released Thursday.

Journalists for Justice reckons that widespread sugar and charcoal smuggling, coupled with gross human rights abuses by the Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) are helping keep Al-Shabaab alive nearly four years since Kenya entered the neighbouring country to help rout the terrorists.

Political dissents, human rights defenders, environmental defenders who advocate for the environmental conservation face persecution, assassination, torture, forced disappearance, and arbitrary arrests. Many environmental defenders are forced to leave or face worst consequences of their legitimate environmental activism.

The main challenges facing environmental conservation in Somalia are:

a. Lack governmental policy concerning climate crisis

b. Uninterrupted illicit Charcoal export to the United Arab Emirates

c. Lack of legal protection for environmental defenders in Somalia

Some of the environmental defenders forced to flee include (Their initial names only are mentioned for security reasons)

  1. F. H. SH.
  2. H. J. A.
  3. C. O. B.
  4. S. J. S.
  5. F. A. B.

The above-mentioned environmental defenders and others are in urgent need for support and protection in order to prevent against further persecutions targeting the defenders.

Siham M. A.

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