28 October 2020

Chair of Security Council’s Somalia Sanctions Committee Details Expert Group’s Findings on How Extremist Group Al-Shabaab Funds Activities

A group of United Nations-appointed experts detailed in its recent report how the Al-Shabaab extremist group raises funds for its activities, the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia said today, during a 28 October videoconference meeting.

Updating the Council on the Committee’s work from 10 June to 28 October, Belgium’s representative, speaking in his capacity as Chair, said members met twice by closed informal videoconference.  They heard a presentation by the Panel of Experts on 14 September as well as briefings from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on 9 October.

He reported that the Panel’s coordinator highlighted several issues, including the Panel’s relations with the Federal Government of Somalia, Al-Shabaab financing, sanctions listings, the arms embargo and the improvised explosive devices components ban, the charcoal ban, and the humanitarian situation in Somalia.  Committee members welcomed the continued development in the Panel’s relations with the Government and praised the high quality of the Panel’s report, in particular the section analysing Al-Shabaab’s revenue sources, storage and transfer methods, and illegal taxation systems.

OCHA’s Deputy Director, Operations and Advocacy Division, pointed out that humanitarian needs in Somalia remained high due to protracted conflict, political and economic instability, and recurrent climatic shocks, he reported.  The triple threat of floods, COVID-19 and the worst desert locust upsurge in decades had aggravated the humanitarian situation, exacerbating pre-existing vulnerabilities, disrupting positive socioeconomic gains, destroying livelihoods and straining the health-care system.  She asked for renewal of the humanitarian exemption from the existing sanctions to facilitate aid delivery.

The UNODC briefing, he continued, provided insight into the trafficking of components for improvised explosive devices, the maritime trade and Al-Shabaab’s revenue system, and the charcoal trade.  The Head of the Global Maritime Crime Programme highlighted key efforts to disrupt the group’s activities, among them liaising with key Member States to enhance their awareness and engagement in those efforts; strengthening the regional maritime law-enforcement capacity; and improving maritime domain awareness through the use of technology such as satellite imagery.

Following the briefing, the United Kingdom’s delegate applauded Somalia’s recent progress while noting that the Panel’s report also cites significant remaining challenges.  “We need to support Somalia and work together […] to combat Al-Shabaab,” including by tackling the group’s ability to raise funds, he said, adding that the humanitarian exemption from the sanctions regime remains critical.

The representative of the United States echoed some of those points, while underlining the need to apply the 751 sanctions regime “to its fullest extent”.  While welcoming the increased cooperation between the Panel and the Federal Government of Somalia, she emphasized that addressing the many challenges posed by Al-Shabaab also requires strong cooperation with the private sector and external partners.  Meanwhile, resolution 2498 (2019) — which added a ban on components for improvised explosive devices to the sanctions regime — must be implemented in full, she reiterated.

China’s representative emphasized that sanctions “must be a means, not an end”, saying that Somalia’s legitimate requests in that regard should be given due attention.  Taking note of the improving relationship between the Government and the Panel, he called upon both sides to enhance mutual trust and build stronger cooperation.  However, the Panel should strive to improve the quality of its reports and verify all its information, he stressed, expressing concern about repeated leaks.  Pointing out that the Council is set to renew the sanctions in November, he called for updating those measures in a manner that effectively combats terrorism and reduces violence.  Language that is not relevant to those goals should be avoided, he stressed.

Germany’s representative underscored the Council’s support for the Panel’s work, while pledging to fully implement the 751 sanctions regime.

The representative of the Russian Federation, Council President for October, spoke in her national capacity, emphasizing the importance of the sanctions in helping the Government to establish peace and security in Somalia.  However, the sanctions should not impede the Somali National Army’s efforts in fighting Al-Shabaab.  She went on to urge the Panel of Experts to continue to carry out its mandate in all areas of investigation.

For information media. Not an official record.