Kenya denies defying UN ban on Somalia charcoal trade

Sacks of charcoal in Kismayo - Somalia, February 2013 The UN estimates charcoal exports from Kismayo worth $15m to $16m a month

Kenya has dismissed a UN report which accuses its troops in Somalia of facilitating charcoal exports in defiance of a UN Security Council ban.

The report, leaked to Reuters news agency, said Kenyan troops helped export charcoal from Kismayo port after militant Islamist group al-Shabab lost control of it in September 2012.

The UN banned the export of charcoal from Somalia in February 2012.

It alleges that the industry is a major source of income for al-Shabab.

'Lacks objectivity'

Kenya and the African Union (AU) appealed to the UN Security Council to lift the ban after al-Shabab fighters fled Kismayo following last year's offensive by Kenyan troops and a Somali militia known as Ras Kamboni.

When the Security Council refused, Kenya's army and Ras Kamboni "took the unilateral decision to begin the export of charcoal" from Kismayo, said the report, compiled by a UN panel of experts.

It said al-Shabab retained a stake in the industry.


"Essentially, with the changeover of power in Kismayo, the shareholding of the charcoal trade at the port was divided into three between al-Shabab, Ras Kamboni and Somali Kenyan businessmen cooperating with the KDF [Kenya Defence Forces]," the report alleged.

KDF spokesman Bogita Ongeri said the report lacked objectivity and had not been properly researched.

Kenyan troops had curtailed al-Shabab's operations in Somalia and had put a "stop" to the illegal charcoal trade, he said, Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reports.

The total trade volume of charcoal exports from southern Somalia in 2011 increased to between nine million and 10 million sacks, generating revenues for the al-Qaeda group in excess of $25m (£16m), the UN report said.

Charcoal exports from Kismayo were estimated to be worth $15m to $16m per month, it added.

Kismayo has been hit by clashes between rival Somali militia since al-Shabab fled the city in September 2012.

The city is seen as a lucrative prize for militias, which could gain financially from charcoal exports, port taxes and levies on weapons and other illegal imports.

Kenya sent troops to Somalia in October 2011, alleging that al-Shabab was threatening its security.

Its troops later joined the African Union (AU) force helping the weak Somali government fend off threats by al-Shabab to overthrow it.

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