Italy checking Somali toxic waste allegations

Mogadishu (Reuter) - Italy is investigating allegations that some of its companies took advantage of anarchy in Somalia to dump toxic waste in its waters, the visiting Italian Foreign Minister, Emilio Colombo, said yesterday. 'It is difficult to get information on this here but we are investigating it,' he said on the second day of a mission aimed at getting talks started between rival warlords.

The leaders of Somalia's two main factions have both complained that Italian companies, under cover of the chaos in Somalia caused by 20 months of civil strife, dumped waste off its Indian Ocean coastline. Exiled Somalis accuse one of the country's many warlords of taking money in return for allowing the dumping. Details are vague but it has become one of the few issues on which both the big Somali warlords agree.

Mr Colombo said the matter was being studied by the United Nations Environment Programme, which is based in Kenya and monitors the disposal of toxic substances worldwide.

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