Amisom in cash appeal as Kismayu assault Looms

Tuesday August 07 2012

Africa Union troops which have launched a major onslaught on al Qaida allied group, Al- Shabaab in Somalia are facing a serious financial crisis that may jeopardize operations to wipe out the militia in the Horn of Africa nation.

AU Deputy chairperson Erastus Mwencha said the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)'s venture into Horn of Africa is an expensive affair and appealed for more international aid to enable the troops complete their mandate of pacifying the country.

Mr Mwencha who was speaking during African Leadership Conference in Kenya's port city of Mombasa Monday said the pan African body spends about $45 million per month.

"In the last three years we have spent $300 million  to send troops, armored trucks and tanks, backed by helicopters, into Somalia to mutilate terrorism groups operating in the war tone country of Somalia," he said.

According to AMISOM, Kenya has contributed troops comprising of air force, Navy and Army troops and have concentrated to the pacification efforts in central and lower Juba, part of Somalia also known as sector two.

The other troop contributing nations include Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Sierra Leone for the over 17,000 strong force.


Mr Mwencha said the current level of funding was shot enough although the pan African body continues to get support from UN Security Council and European Union and other friendly countries.

Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) formally joined the enlarged AMISOM on June at a ceremony held at the Kenyan Department of Defense headquarters in the capital Nairobi.

During the ceremony, a total of 4,664 Kenyan personnel were integrated into AMISOM, bringing the AU peacekeeping force's strength to slightly over 17,000 troops out of a total authorized strength of 17,731.

The re-hatting comes in the wake of the latest terrorist attack blamed on Somalia based Al-Shabaab that killed 17 people and injured more than 65 others on Sunday in northern Kenya.

Kenya's integration into the continental force was officially solemnized through the change from Kenyan flag to the AU flag. Mr Mwencha said the major goal of the AU troops was to flash out al Qaida-affiliated extremists based in Somalia which pose a significant threat not just to Somalia but to other countries in the region, including Kenya. 

"We have made significant progress since our incursion in Somalia by cutting Al-Shabaab relief supplies and recaptured key stronghold towns and will not surrender," said Mr Mwencha.

Kismayu, the strategic hub for Al-Shabaab operations, has been a target for the Kenyan troops, who make up the AU contingent in the south of the country, since they entered Somalia last October.