Published On: Sat, Mar 4th, 2017

Donors pledge to continue supporting AU troops in Somalia

Donors have pledged to continue supporting the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to enable it achieve its key mandate of stabilizing Somalia.

Representatives of the European Union, United Nations, Government of the United Kingdom, the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) promised their commitment to assist Africa’s flagship peace and security mission pull Somalia out of civil strife.

The pledge was made, Thursday, at a five-day meeting held in Nairobi attended by AMISOM’s top leadership and donors. The meeting aims to draw up a list of activities and budget that will guide the Mission through its exit strategy expected to come into effect in the second half of 2018.

Albrecht Braun, a representative of the EU-ACP (European Union – Africa, Caribbean Pacific) praised AMISOM for the role it has played in pacifying the country emerging from decades of war and anarchy.

“The EU overall will remain engaged in Somalia to contribute to this process of stabilization and the delivery of tangible peace dividends,” Mr. Braun stated.

The EU representative noted that AMISOM had played a tremendous role in transforming Somalia after many years of war.

“It is obviously clear to everybody that without AMISOM, Somalia wouldn’t be where it is today. A lot has been achieved, thanks to AMISOM, which has provided the space for the political process to progress,” Mr. Braun observed.

He noted that over the last 10 years, EU-ACP has contributed more than 1.3 billion Euros (US$1.68) to AMISOM and had committed about two billion euros in between 2004 and 2017, in the field of peace and security through the African Peace Facility, with the bulk of the money channeled to AMISOM.

Another 180 million euros (US$189.5), Mr. Braun noted, has been earmarked for the period April – December 2017.

“So I do think that clearly demonstrates our continued commitment to AMISOM,” Mr. Braun told the meeting but urged AMISOM to consider looking into the issue of alternative sources of funding to bridge gaps.

“It is also important to mobilize additional financial support from other donors and specifically from African governments and other partners. Peace and stability is a collective effort,” the envoy said.

Hubert Price, the Head of United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), observed that the Nairobi meeting presented a key opportunity for AMISOM and UNSOS to interact, so as to get a deeper understanding of the magnitude of work that needs to be done vis-a-vis resources available, to help in budgeting.

“We have to strike that balance of reality between what we need and what we can actually get and the budget business is one that never ends,” Mr. Price observed.

“This is a key opportunity to better understand how both UNSOS and AMISOM are able to engage on the critical areas of support and resource management, which at the end of the day, are key to everything that we do. If you do not have the resources you cannot meet your mandate objectives,” the Head of UNSOS added.

UNSOS, he noted, has provided, among others, support base, logistical hubs, air and surface travel, stipends and training for troops and police, capacity building, rations and general supply.

James Haggerty, an official from the British Embassy in Somalia, reiterated the importance of winning the hearts and minds of the Somali population, if stabilization efforts are to yield fruit and lauded AMISOM for trying to achieve the objective.

“We look forward to continuing and developing a very close relationship with the African Union and with AMISOM in particular in Mogadishu,” Mr. Haggerty noted.

The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, told the meeting that the Mission had failed to deliver on some of its objectives due to funding constraints, prompting the officials to seek alternative means.

“Inadequate funding has been a major challenge to the implementation of the 2016 budget. Resources were not available to fund our projects and in fact no resources were available,” the SRCC stated.

Ambassador Madeira appealed to the international community to continue supporting the mission until such time when it has achieved its mandate.

“It is also pertinent that the partners understand that this mission is a UN approved mission and therefore the international community should continue to identify itself with this mission and support it until our mandate is fully accomplished,” the SRCC observed.

Issues discussed at the meeting included support for political processes, security sector, stabilization and recovery, protection of human rights and gender process. Also on the table was the issue on how AMISOM should facilitate access to recovered areas and secure main supply routes.

During the Monday session, it emerged that AMISOM was finding it difficult to run some of its programmes owing to reduced donor funding. AMISOM leaders called for austere measures.

Ambassador Madeira informed the meeting that the new Somalia leadership under President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo deserved the support of all to entrench itself and also meet its promise of eradicating Al-Shabaab in two years.

“We as AMISOM and our partners should work closely with his government to make this possible. The implementation of our 2018 budget will be a decisive step in this direction,” Ambassador Madeira observed.

AU representatives at the meeting, Francis Kankya, (Advisor to Deputy Chair, AU Commission), and Assietou Diouf (Director, Programming, Budgeting, Finance and Accounting) lauded AMISOM’s role in Somalia and asked the Mission to be effective in operations and financial management, create synergies with donor partners, and be dynamic in budgeting.

Ms. Diouf urged the meeting to come up with a budget that is meaningful, useful and realistic. “It means we should have targets that are achievable and measureable in line with the financial resource available,” Ms. Diouf explained at the meeting which comes to a close today.

She said 2018 would be the year of “consolidation” for the AU and AMISOM.

Mr. Kankya said a failed Somalia would create greater insecurity in the region and beyond, urging the international community not to abandon the Eastern Africa country. “The investment that has been made in the past ten years shouldn’t be thrown away,” he said.

In his speech, AMISOM chief of Plans and Operations (POU) Maj. General Francis Okello thanked the people of Somalia for their close relationship with AMISOM and expressed gratitude to the AU and donors for their assistance towards the Somalia effort.

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