Heavy taxes imposed by the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab group in parts of Somalia make crop cultivation impossible in the midst of a severe drought.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s special envoy for the drought situation, Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, said al-Shabab taxes were forcing farmers to flee their farms and homes.
On the final day of a two-day meeting in Mogadishu, Warsame briefed the president and the heads of the country’s regional states.
According to him, the drought has affected more than seven million Somalis. 250,000 of them are at risk of starvation.
“People are fleeing not only the drought, but also insecurity. In areas controlled by al-Shabab, the terrorist group has prevented people from farming,” Warsame said.
“Al-Shabab has imposed taxes on the plantation process, soil preparation process and harvesting. People cannot farm. As for livestock, anyone selling an animal has to pay a tax larger than the value of the animal.”
Droughts in Somalia are frequently used by Al-Shabab to boost its image and launch aid distribution operations. Remember that the group announced in January that it was launching a “drought relief” campaign.
The militants control some of the most fertile areas of the country, including the Jubba and Shabelle rivers.
The Somali insurgent group al Shabaab collects nearly as much tax as the government through a sophisticated system of levies on activities ranging from importing goods to irrigating crops.
Much of al Shabaab’s revenue is generated at ports, where militants tax shipping containers in the same way that the government does.
The insurgents frequently contacts and questions business organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce, as well as government agencies in charge of specific tax brackets.
Using intimidation and violence, al-Shabab raises as much revenue as the country’s authorities. The militants collect at least $15m (£11m) a month, with more than half the amount coming from the capital, Mogadishu.
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