The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) HQ was visited by Dr. Charles Cater from the United Nations’ (UN) Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group to update CMF on the latest analysis of the illegal charcoal trade from Somalia. The export of charcoal from Somalia has been banned since 2012 under UN Security Council Resolution 2036.

Dr. Cater, a highly qualified Nairobi-based UN natural resources expert, spent three days with CMF staff to discuss CMF’s activities in intercepting this illegal trade, which contributes substantial funding to the Somali militant group known as ‘Al Shabaab’. Dr Cater explained that checkpoint taxation between charcoal production sites and stockpiles at ports currently generate at least $10m per annum of income for Al Shabaab.

In addition to meeting with CMF policy and legal advisers, Dr Cater discussed with the staff of Jordanian led Combined Task Force 152 to establish what more CMF can do to help enforce the UNSCR wherever possible. CTF 152 is specifically responsible for maritime security operations within the Arabian Gulf and, along with CTF 150 who focus on maritime security operations outside the Arabian Gulf, are best placed to disrupt the flow of charcoal from Somalia to countries in the region.

CMF has enjoyed some success during recent months by sharing information with port authorities in the importing nations, to provide the opportunity for those nations to then seize and sell the cargos, retaining the sales proceeds for their own national use. CMF is continuing to work with regional stakeholders to enforce Security Council resolution 2036 and eradicate the illicit charcoal trade as a source of financing for Al-Shabaab.