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TNG: Incompetent or Willing Partner of the Environmental Rape Charcoal Trade Issue of Somalia

By Abdiwahab A. Musse

TNG: Incompetent or Willing Partner of the Environmental Rape Charcoal Trade Issue of Somalia

Abdiwahab A. Musse "I believe the more you cut, the more the trees come back," Adan Guleed Hersi, a Somali charcoal producer

"They're making such an enormous profit. They're cutting acacias. Even mangoes. They're taking everything." John Miskell, a CARE International team leader

Resources up in smoke, Andrew Maykuth, The Philadelphia Inquerer

As if over a decade long of death and destruction of people and infrastructure were not enough, the recent articles of Paul Salopek , "Somalia plundered for profit: Charcoal trade wiping out trees in lawless nation", and Andrew Maykuth, "Resources up in smoke" - or as it appeared on the Seattle Times, "Somalia is sacrificing its trees for profit" - , exhibit the grim reality of Somalia's evermore downward spiral and the reckless ransack of its limited resources for individual gains by a mafia styled Moryaan. This time, the targets are not the sewer, the water, phone, and electricity pipe and wire lines of our cities. The monuments of our history are not being targeted either. These infrastructures and symbols of a modern state are no longer in existence. What is now at risk, all in the name of irresistible 100% - 300% profit returns, are the country's limited arable land (2%) and forests (14% in 1994, now down to 4%, according to the recent estimates) whose trees are being uprooted and burnt for charcoal to satisfy the growing demands of rich Arab states - ironically, the same marketplace and faith of the country's looted infrastructures.

What is taking place in the heartland of our nation's breadbasket, as the two articles and coverage of some Mogadishu based newspapers had conveyed, can only be described as "Environmental Genocide" - if such a phrase can be coined. It is certain that without immediate concerted efforts for intervention at the local, national, and international levels, the consequences could be catastrophic disaster and irreversible environmental damage, which could threaten the livelihood of not only the communities and vulnerable nomads of the affected areas - the interriverine area, severely so the Bravo-Kismayo corridor- but the population of the country as a whole.

Regrettably, the destruction of these limited arable land and deforestation of the country's remaining forest, as a consequence of the clear cuttings caused by the charcoal trade bonanza, are taking place under the watchful eyes (albeit selectively blind ones) of the country's fledgling national government (TNG). Despite the TNG's proclaimed band on charcoal trade, late last year, and the threats of severe plenty for violators by Mogadishu's top Police Chief, the illegal charcoal trade remains intact and the profiteering practice of burning the country's trees for charcoal continues unabated. Therefore, in the wake of this national disaster, is it safe to assume that the TNG is either incompetent to enforce its own policies or a willing partner and benefactor of the ongoing environmental rape?

Whatever the answer(s) may be, one thing is for sure, this unscrupulous profiteering, at the expense of our country's resources and source of livelihood, by the charcoal mafia wages on well within the reach and control of this supposedly national government - not to mention the marketplace of their products are governments and countries friendly to its authorities. The puck (ball) stops at the footsteps of AbdiQasim Salad Hassan, Hassan Abshir Farah and the TNG; and so long as the wholesale of what is left of our country's remains continues under their watch, they cannot, and must not be allowed, to lay claims to the legitimacy and moral high grounds of a national leadership and a national government.

To the Arabs; it is the soul and future survival of our children and nation that you lay to ashes through your insense burning rituals and smoking habitats; may you inherit the pain and despair the blood-tainted products you consume have rendered in our hearts.

To the Somalis; indifference, contempt, and self-hate have stripped away your dignity and nationhood; may you find in your misfortunes a collective strength to halt the touches of your final demise that is in the making.

"All the good trees are gone,.. Now we have to drive all day to find them, sometimes through minefields." Ali Mohamed Ali, Somali charcoal producer and trader

Somalia plundered for profit: Charcoal trade wiping out trees in lawless nation, Paul Salopek Chicago Tribune

Abdiwahab A. Musse

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