United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has recommended to the Security Council that the African Union maintains its staffing level in Somalia through the end of the year.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) comprises 20,000 soldiers, police and civilians tasked with supporting the country’s fragile government in the fight against insurgents.
The Amisom mandate expires on March 31, but the UN Security Council is expected to vote on March 30 to replace it with the African Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis).
In the letter delivered to the council on Monday, Guterres said he prefers a plan to gradually reduce Atmis in four phases, “to enable and support Somali security forces to take primary responsibility for security in Somalia by the end of 2023” with complete military departure in 2024.
The UN chief added that under the plan, Atmis’ first reduction of 2,000 troops would not happen until after December 2022, with more decreases in every phase.
“It is important that existing uniformed troop levels are maintained until the end of phase one to ensure hard-won gains are preserved and allow for a reconfiguration of the mission without compromising the current security provision,” Guterres says.
While Amisom is financed by the UN and EU, the letter does not outline financing for Atmis.
“I appeal to the international community to continue their support by providing adequate resources to Atmis and Somali security forces, as well as through the provision of specialised capabilities,” he said, adding that he is grateful for partners’ donations.
His recommendations are along the same lines as a plan previously worked out between the AU and the UN.
That proposal was expected to be finalised last year.