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Continuing violations of the UN arms embargo on Somalia and Eritrea

Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tigrai Online April 08, 2013

The UN Monitoring Group’s latest report continues to suggest that arms shipments are still arriving in Somalia in violation of the UN arms embargo and that sales of charcoal have also continued and even expanded despite the ban on charcoal exports. Certainly, there appears to be a continuous flow of components of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) into Somalia and subsequent transportation of these components on to other parts of East Africa.

At the same time there is evidence of the appearance of a new weapons systems in the fighting in southern Somalia. These are ‘homemade’ surface-tosurface rockets, similar to those used by the insurgent forces in the conflict in Syria. It's not yet clear if these have been assembled abroad and then imported into Somalia or whether they have been put together inside Somalia. Either way, they appear to constitute an increase in the capacity of the extremist elements, and the latest report described it as a significant development.

Investigations continue into where these and other arms originate and the ways in which they arrive in Somalia. This means enquiries have to be made into countries of manufacture, identifying intermediary brokers and agents, and end-user-recipients for the arms and ammunition that have been captured and are now stored in AMISOM containers in Mogadishu. One recent incident included the arrival of a Greek shipping company vessel apparently carrying a military cargo which reportedly off-loaded a consignment of arms and ammunition at Las Qoray.

 At the moment neither the origin of the cargo nor its intended recipient are clear. Las Qoray is in Somaliland but it is not under the control of the Somaliland government and possible recipients for these arms include Al-Shabaab allied groups in the nearby Galgala Mountains or elements of the Khatumo militia that have been fighting the Somaliland government, though most made peace last year. There were also two vessels intercepted by the Yemeni authorities which appeared to have been planning to violate the arms embargo. They were intercepted by Yemeni naval vessels and are currently detained in Yemeni ports.

The report says it appears the production and sale of charcoal around Kismayo has continued with minimal change since Al-Shabaab was driven out by Kenyan and Somali forces. Indeed, a new stockpile has been established in Kismayo, comparable in size to the original stockpile, and there has been no reduction in its size despite reports of continuous exports of charcoal in January and February. There has also been a noticeable increase in the number of trucks transporting charcoal from areas outside Kismayo relating to expansion of charcoal production. Some of this is coming from areas still controlled by Al-Shabaab such as Badade, south of Kismayo near the Kenyan border, where a forest is being leveled. Production is so large that up to 100 trucks a day have been bringing the charcoal into Kismayo.

The report says that the Al-Shabaab tax, levied at their Buulo Xaaji checkpoint, is US$250 for the smaller 5-ton trucks and $US500 for the 12-ton trucks. It has also been claimed Al-Shabaab fighters have been using the trucks for transport to the environs of Kismayo. There are indications that charcoal is also being regularly exported from small ports like Buur Gaabo, Anole, Koday and Koyaama, south of Kismayo. Certainly there are charcoal stockpiles there.


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