Monday, April 14, 2003

UN Blames Chaos in Somalia On $50m Kenyan Miraa [Khat] TradeKevin J. Kelley, Special Correspondent
NAIROBI, 13 APRIL 2003--AN AVERAGE of 10 flights a day from Nairobi's Wilson Airport carry khat (miraa) to Somalia, where sales of the stimulant help prolong the country's deadly chaos, a United Nations panel reported last week.

Kenya currently exports up to 7,000 tonnes of khat per year to Somalia and an additional 100 tonnes to Britain, the UN estimates.

That results in as much as $50 million in revenues for the Somali traders who dominate Kenya's khat trade.

Further proceeds come from textiles, electronic goods and other "cargo of opportunity" smuggled into Kenya on khat aircraft that would otherwise return empty from Somalia, the report says. These planes also fly passengers illegally into Kenya, "avoiding immigration by landing at uncontrolled strips or bribing officials."

Bluebird Aviation, which makes about 250 flights a month to Somalia, is described as the largest transporter of Kenyan khat.

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