Iran Involved In Smuggling of Somali Charcoal

Iran Involved In Smuggling of Somali Charcoal

Sunday, 14 October, 2018 - 07:30
In this Tuesday Oct. 30, 2012 File photo, Somali porters offload charcoal from a truck at a charcoal market in Mogadishu, Somali (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
New York - Ali Barada
A UN group of experts tasked with applying sanctions slapped on Somalia uncovered that Al-Shabaab rebels are profiting from the illegal trafficking of charcoal exports produced in Somalia, by often passing the product through Iran to have their origins obscured.

The monitors also said banned charcoal exports from Somalia were generating millions of dollars a year for the Qaeda linked group.

The world body estimates that some 3.6 million bags of charcoal were produced in 2017 for exports, generating some $7.5 million in revenue for the Shabaab.

Six years after the UN Security Council prohibited exports of prized Somali charcoal to try to choke off a money stream to al-Shabaab, an estimated three million bags of the commodity are making their way out of the Horn of Africa country each year, the monitors say in excerpts of a yet-unpublished report.

The main destinations are ports in Iran, where the charcoal — already falsely labeled as coming from Comoros, Ghana, or Ivory Coast — is transferred from blue-green bags into white bags labeled “product of Iran,” the report added.

"The process involved using false Comoros, Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Ghana certificates of origin to import Somali charcoal, repackaging the charcoal from typical blue-green bags into white bags labeled as 'Product of Iran," it added.

The monitors said Tehran largely didn’t cooperate with their investigation in the document, which will be made public next week.

The report also explained that the overall implementation of the charcoal ban by member states has improved compared to the previous mandate, and seizures of cargoes of Somali charcoal by Oman and the UAE have been influential in deterring the illicit charcoal trade.

The document called Iran a "weak link" in implementing the charcoal ban and pointed to countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast for allowing charcoal traffickers to "exploit weaknesses" in the certification processes.

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