The United Nation’s Security Council yesterday voted to delay the reduction of troops in the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, Associated Press reported.
Troops part of the African Union Mission will be permitted to deploy in Somalia until 31 May 2019 according to the unanimously adopted resolution. The measure includes a reduction to a maximum of 20,626 uniformed troops by 28 February 2019. This pushed back the withdrawal of troops from October 2018 to February 2019 with a view for Somalia’s National Army to take over security details in December 2021.
“AMISOM is providing the critical space while Somalia gets its own security forces up to capacity, and we hope that that will continue,” British Ambassador Karen Pierce said.
“The resolution allows for a delay in the transition of AMISOM precisely so that there’s enough time and space for the Somalis to get their house in order on the security side,” Pierce continued.
But despite some developments in Somalia on the security front, “progress is still reversible” and “Al-Shabaab remains a potent threat”, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a letter to the Security Council in early July.
The group is battling to topple the central government and impose its rule based on its own strict interpretation of Islamic law. It has killed thousands of Somalis and hundreds of civilians across East Africa in a decade-long insurgency.
Al-Shabaab fighters last week detonated a suicide car bomb before storming a military base in the south of Somalia, killing some 27 soldiers. Off the back of the car bomb attack, the United States executed air strikes against Al-Shabaab, though the number of casualties is unknown.
Last October, Al-Shabaab launched a suicide bomb attack in the capital Mogadishu killing over 500 people, and leaving many injured. “The attack, attributed to Al-Shabaab, underscored the deficiencies in capacity and command and control of Somali security forces,” Guterres said. “It was followed by other deadly attacks by Al-Shabaab on civilian and military targets in Mogadishu and other parts of the country.”
Guterres continued: “[These] Clearly demonstrate that a premature handover would be risky and that the continued presence of AMISOM is necessary during the transition as Somalia builds the capability of its security forces and institutions and prepares for elections in 2020-2021.”
One thousand troops from the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces arrived in the Somali capital Mogadishu over the weekend as part of peacekeeping efforts.