- Title: Khat business booms after Somalia lifts ban on Kenyan imports
- Date: 5th October 2016
- Summary: MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (RECENT) (REUTERS) STREET SCENES VARIOUS OF MEN UNLOADING SACKS OF KHAT FROM TRUCK VARIOUS OF TRADERS SELLING KHAT (SOUNDBITE) (Somali) KHAT TRADER, IBRAHIM ADEN, SAYING: "We are very happy that we are now able to sell khat in Somalia because our local economy depends on khat, many people depend on it for work and others chew it." TRADERS SELLING KHAT KHAT VARIOUS OF PEOPLE CHEWING KHAT IN ROOM MADOBE ADEN CHEWING KHAT WITH FRIENDS MEN CHEWING KHAT MEN CHEWING KHAT / SMOKING (SOUNDBITE) (Somali) KHAT USER, MADOBE ADEN, SAYING: "I like chewing khat but khat is expensive. I earn 100,000 shillings ($160) so I find it difficult to provide for my family and afford to buy myself khat." STREET SCENE WOMAN ENTERING GATE SIGN READING (English): "HABEB PSYCHIATRIC EMERGENCY HOSPITAL AND OPD MENTAL HEALTH CARE" VARIOUS OF PATIENTS AT HOSPITAL DOCTOR MUSTAF ABDIRAHMAN ALI TALKING TO PATIENT VARIOUS OF ALI WRITING (SOUNDBITE) (Somali) DOCTOR AT HABEB PSYCHIATRIC EMERGENCY HOSPITAL AND OPD MENTAL HEALTH CARE, MUSTAF ABDIRAHMAN ALI, SAYING: "We have more than 261 patients in three centres in the city and more than 80 patients suffer khat addiction. They have mental illnesses that may have been caused by khat and they also cannot sleep." VARIOUS OF TRADERS SORTING KHAT SPOKESMAN FOR BANADIR REGION ADMINISTRATION, ABIFITAH OMAR HALANE, WORKING AT HIS DESK (SOUNDBITE) (Somali) SPOKESMAN FOR BANADIR REGION ADMINISTRATION, ABIFITAH OMAR HALANE, SAYING: "I can confirm that a huge amount of money is spent on khat everyday but I do not have real figures but it is thousands and thousands of dollars yet we are getting very little in taxes from khat in Somalia." VARIOUS OF TRADERS SELLING KHAT
- Embargoed: 20th October 2016 10:52
- Keywords: Khat Ban drug addiction traders herb stimulant
- Location: MOGADISHU, SOMALIA
- City: MOGADISHU, SOMALIA
- Country: Somalia
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA00152Q7591
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: After an unpopular ban on Kenyan planes transporting khat to Somalia, traders of the herbal stimulant in the capital Mogadishu have reopened for business.
Somalia banned Kenyan khat early last month, but after a recent meeting between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, the order which was imposed under unclear circumstances was eventually lifted.
Grown on plantations in the highlands of Kenya and Ethiopia, tonnes of khat, or qat, dubbed "the flower of paradise" by its users, are flown daily into Mogadishu airport, to be distributed from there in convoys of lorries to markets across Somalia.
"We are very happy that we are now able to sell khat in Somalia because our local economy depends on khat, many people depend on it for work and others chew it," said Ibrahim Aden, a khat trader in the Somali capital.
Khat chewing is a practice that dates back thousands of years in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where the plant is widely cultivated, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The chemical released by the chewing of khat leaves is structurally related to amphetamines, which give the chewer a mild high that some say is comparable to drinking strong coffee, the WHO added.
In Somalia and Ethiopia, khat is widely consumed as an intoxicant and largely seen as a means to bring people together.
The Somali market provides income for thousands of farmers in neighbouring Kenya, because in Somalia it's legal to chew khat but not to grow them.
According to anti-khat campaigners, khat worth up to $400,000 us traded every day in Kenya, where a kilo of khat can go for $12 to 58 depending on the quality.
Madobe Aden and his friends usually pool money together to buy khat which they share.
"I like chewing khat but khat is expensive. I earn 100,000 shillings ($160) so I find it difficult to provide for my family and afford to buy myself khat," said Aden.
According to a study conducted by Rift Valley Institute Nairobi Forum last year, many men in war-torn Somalia are addicted to khat, traumatised, depressed and physically disabled.
In Somali culture, men are expected to provide all household needs, from food to security. But after years of chaos and killings in Somalia, many Somali men lost their jobs.
At the Habeb Psychiatric Emergency Hospital, doctors say they are working to rehabilitate a number of patients addicted to khat.
"We have more than 261 patients in three centres in the city and more than 80 patients suffer khat addiction. They have mental illnesses that may have been caused by khat and they also cannot sleep," said Mustaf Abdirahman Ali, a doctor working at the facility.
Although khat is a lucrative business in the country, authorities say an efficient tax system that collects revenue from the sector is yet to be established.
"I can confirm that a huge amount of money is spent on khat everyday but I do not have real figures and it is - thousands and thousands of US dollars yet we are getting very little in taxes from khat in Somalia," said Abifitah Omar Halane, the spokesman for Banadir Region Administration which covers Mogadishu.
Khat is seen as a social illness by some, sapping productivity and finances. The herb is classified by the WHO as a "drug of abuse that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence". Its physical symptoms can include hallucinations, depression and tooth decay.
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