Amisom in need of 4,000 more troops to fight Al-Shabaab
Wednesday November 23 2016
The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) will need additional 4,000 troops to liberate the Al-Shabaab controlled areas in the Juba Valley, Bakool, Hiraan and along the some coastal areas.
The Amisom spokesperson, Col Joseph Kibet, told the The EastAfrican in Mogadishu that although the force needs a maximum of 49,000 soldiers to fully secure the remaining areas, the recent African Union Peace Security Council recommended additional 4,000 troops, who can be sourced from the Troop Contributing Countries (TCC) or from fresh volunteers.
The additional troops will boost the current 21,129 from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi who were currently on high alert to secure the ongoing elections.
Col Kibet said that although the recent withdrawal of non-Amisom Ethiopian troops from from Hiraan region has seen Al-Shabaab recapture six town in Central Somalia where they had been routed, it had not affected the operations significantly.
READ: Al Shabaab gains ground as Ethiopia withdraws its troops
"The last three attempts by the Al-Shabaab to attack election centres in the last one month have been thwarted so they have resorted to insurgency and assassinations. We need more troops to capture the improvised explosive devices and take the battle to them because the more we wait, the more they will surprise us," said Col Kibet.
While the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) has revealed that funds were available to support additional 4,000 troops, there have been no volunteers since the decision was taken two months ago.
The head of UNSOS, Mr Hubert Price, said the resources were available, but there were still discussions where the troops would come from.
"We have got resources yes; but someone has to agree to deploy because we can only fund troops that are available and ready. It is up the AU to decide whether the troops will come from member countries or from without, each of them having different implications," said Mr Price.
Lack of support
While most of the TCCs were already overstretched and some of them like Burundi and Kenya have threatened to pull out because of delayed payment and lack of compensation, few African countries were willing to send troops to Somalia.
Ethiopia recently withdrew over 2,000 non-Amisom troops who had been in Somalia under a bilateral agreement between Mogadishu and Addis Ababa, citing lack of support from the international community.
Burundi, on the other hand, was threatening to withdraw because the European Union had delayed payment to its soldiers because the donors did want the money to be channelled through the government.