This Article is From Jun 25, 2014

Illegal Trade, Poaching Help Fund Terror Activities in Africa: Report

Illegal Trade, Poaching Help Fund Terror Activities in Africa: Report

In this Friday, June 20, 2014 photo, charcoal packed in sacks is ready for sale in the market on display, in Tsavo East, Kenya. Environmental crime such as the poaching of elephants for ivory and the selling of illegal charcoal is helping to finance crimi

Nairobi: Al Shabaab, a Kenya-based terror group affiliated to the Al Qaeda, receives a large amount of funds from illegal trade in charcoal, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Program and the Interpol.

The Environment Crime Crisis report says that trading in charcoal and implementing its taxes at local ports have generated an estimated amount between $38 million to $56 million for Al Shabaab.

In other African countries seeped in conflict -- the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Somalia -- conservative estimates suggest that militant and terrorist groups make between $111 million and $289 million annually from illegal charcoal trade.

The report pegs the amount of money generated from illegal and anti-environment activities -- which is used to finance terror, militia and criminal groups -- at a staggering $213 billion every year.

This information should worry not just those countries that are battling poaching and the plunder of natural resources but also those that have been the target of terror groups and militant activities.

Dr Christian Nellemann, head of UNEP's Rapid Response Unit and Assessments, said, "I am shocked by the evolvement and involvement of organised crime in natural resources and how fast it's developing and spreading into other forms of crime simply because of the low risks involved. This undermines development, peace, society and security."

It is estimated that Africa loses 20,000 - 25,000 elephants every year to poaching activities, where its population has fallen by 62 per cent between 2002 and 2011.

The involvement of organised syndicates in rhino poaching was fewer than 50 in 2007; it is over 1,000 in 2013.

The report also urges governments across the globe to collaborate and tackle this growing menace.

Ben Janse Van Rensburg of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES says, "We need more legislations on money laundering and better forensic techniques. We can catch as many foot soldiers as we want but as long as we don't track down the kingpin, it won't stop. We need a strong collaborative and coordinated trans-national effort. It is crucial that this stays high on the political agenda so that our governments stay committed".