Al-Shabaab May Look to Acquire Explosive Materials through Illicit Smuggling, Somalia Sanctions Committee Chair Warns Security Council

If the current chemicals used for Al-Shabaab’s homemade explosives become scarce, the group would shift to other sources of explosive materials or precursors, possibly through illicit smuggling, the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia said during a 9 June videoconference meeting*.

Updating the Council on the Committee’s work from 28 February to 9 June, the representative of Belgium, speaking in his capacity as its Chair, noted that its members met twice in the “informal informals” format via closed videoconference.

During an informal discussion on 29 April, he said the United Nations Mine Action Service delivered a briefing on improvised explosive device trends in Somalia, with recommendations on the implementation of the newly imposed components ban. On Al-Shabaab’s increased use of homemade explosives since 2018, the Mine Action Service views that the effort to clear mines and unexploded war remnants across Somalia has reduced Al-Shabaab’s access to military grade explosives, apparently triggering a shift away from such explosives.

He said the Mine Action Service encourages the development of a coordinated approach to controlling the supply of improvised explosive device components via regional bodies and agreements, as well as donor support for strengthening the Somali National Army. It also recommends continued sensitization of Member States regarding their obligations under the sanctions regime. On that point, the Committee had tasked the Panel of Experts with preparing a draft Implementation Assistance Notice to guide Member States on carrying out the improvised device component ban.

During an informal discussion on 27 May, he said the Coordinator of the Panel of Experts delivered a midterm update and submitted two monthly updates. Four areas of the midterm update were highlighted: the reset in relations with the Federal Government of Somalia, the threat posed by Al-Shabaab — notably the group’s financial flows — the ban on the export of charcoal from Somalia and the potential consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. All Committee members welcomed the resumed cooperation and collaboration between the Federal Government and the Panel and looked forward to the return of all Panel members to Somalia once the coronavirus travel restrictions were lifted.

He said the Committee is now considering the six recommendations contained in the midterm update, which broadly pertain to: threats to peace and security in Somalia, particularly Al-Shabaab’s military and financial capabilities; implementation of the arms embargo through improvement in weapons and ammunition management; and international humanitarian law issues, including strengthening the protection of civilians.

On other matters, he said the Committee dispatched a reply to a letter received from a Member State on confidentiality issues. It also received another letter, with reference to the work of the predecessor of the Panel of Experts — the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group — which it is currently considering.

He then summarized statistics pertaining to arms embargo exemption requests and notifications, explaining that the Committee approved an exemption request pursuant to paragraphs 10 and 13 of resolution 2498 (2019) submitted by the Federal Government of Somalia. The Committee received six advance delivery notifications pursuant to paragraphs 11 and 13 of the same resolution from the Federal Government of Somalia, as well as an advance delivery notification from the supplying Member State pursuant to paragraphs 11 and 14 of the resolution.

In addition, it received two post-delivery notifications pursuant to paragraph 16 of the resolution, submitted by the Federal Government, and an advance delivery notification from a supplying Member State in accordance with paragraph 17 of the resolution. He went on to say that, following the resignation of a member of the Panel of Experts owing to personal and professional considerations, a new expert was appointed by the Secretary-General on 29 May 2020.

The representative of Somalia welcomed the Committee’s commitment to the ideals of confidentiality and accountability, stressing that the Government has taken important initial steps to re-establish relations with the Panel of Experts. But to fully restore trust and confidence, efforts to resolve pending matters — including those that Somalia has repeatedly raised with the Committee Chair — are necessary. “We are looking forward to your proposed course of action, to be undertaken by the Panel of Experts, as described in your November 2019 correspondence to the Federal Government of Somalia,” he asserted.

Source: United Nations