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UN moves to enforce Somalia arms, charcoal embargoes

Storyline:National News

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – The UN Security Council is set to approve Friday a resolution allowing inspections of ships off the coast of Somalia that are suspected of carrying arms and charcoal, in violation of a UN embargo.

The draft resolution seen by AFP also demands that the Somali government provide a full accounting of the arms shipments it has received after the weapons embargo was partially lifted last year.

The measure authorizes countries to conduct snap inspections of vessels in Somali territorial waters and on the high seas for a period of 12 months.

It followed a report by a UN monitoring group that said charcoal exports, which finance the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab, were continuing as were weapons flows to the group fighting the Mogadishu government.

The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea said the charcoal cargos continued to Gulf countries, including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, in violation of the embargo.

The Group counted 161 vessels exporting charcoal from Shebab-controlled sites between June 2013 and May 2014, worth a total of more than $250 million.

The UN Security Council imposed the charcoal and arms embargo in 2012 and last year moved to partially lift the ban on weapons sold to the Mogadishu government to allow it to supply its forces in its fight against the Shebab.

The UN monitors however reported that some of the weapons sold to the Somali army fell into dubious hands including some shipments that were distributed to clans linked to the government.

The report also said that weapons sent to the national army and supposed to be used to defend the internationally backed government have been seen on open sale in at least one market where Shebab agents bought arms.

The British-drafted resolution to be voted on Friday calls on the Somali government to report on the storage, distribution and use of all of the weapons by March and again in September.

Somalia has been riven by civil war since 1991, but the government which took power last year was the first to be given global recognition since the conflict began.

Somali troops, backed by African Union forces, have managed to beat back the Shebab, which claimed responsibility for last year’s attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.