U.S. bars Somali charcoal imports

July 20, 2012 at 10:29 PM

WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama ordered a ban on imports of charcoal from Somalia Friday in an effort to cut off a funding source for the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Shabaab.

An amendment to an existing executive order signed by the president implements a February U.N. Security Council resolution and authorizes sanctions against those who have imported or exported charcoal from Somalia since Feb. 22, 2012.

A fact sheet issued by the Treasury Department said charcoal is a "significant revenue source for al-Shabaab," which the United States has designated a terrorist organization.

"It is crucial that the trade in charcoal from Somalia be prohibited to diminish this source of al-Shabaab's revenue and further discourage the group from engaging in terrorist acts," the fact sheet stated.

It said the production of charcoal "has led to environmental degradation that has contributed to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa."

The executive order gives the Treasury Department authority to sanction those who act to misappropriate Somali public assets and targets political or military leaders who recruit or use children as soldiers in the armed conflict in Somalia -- as well as those responsible for acts of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, against Somali civilians.

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