Famine caused by conflict and climate change threatens millions in Somalia

Tania Rachid:

Hassan was looking forward to his wife and six children, all of whom were due to arrive the next day. He had no shelter to offer them, but the safety of his family under heaven, he said, meant everything to him.

In addition to terrorizing Somalis, Al-Shabaab also carries out campaigns that have a direct effect on the environment.

Al-Shabaab was also behind an illicit trade in charcoal, now banned by the United Nations. While it was a major source of income for the group, it was also a main cause of deforestation. For years, Al-Shabaab has cut down trees to make charcoal to light hookah bars in the United Arab Emirates, an industry worth billions.

This deforestation led to widespread crop failure, livestock failure, and starvation. The UN estimates that prior to the ban, Al-Shabaab was earning tens of millions of dollars from the illicit charcoal trade. Despite a ban, experts and other local sources have confirmed that the trade continues.

We spoke to an illicit charcoal dealer who asked to remain anonymous. He confirmed that the charcoal trade continues, despite the ban, and is a source of funding for terrorism.


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