A delegation from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on Thursday visited Bariire in Lower Shabelle region in the South West State of Somalia, to conduct a rapid needs and security assessment of the situation on the ground following the recovery of the town from Al-Shabaab.
Bariire was recently recovered from the terrorist group Al-Shabaab militants in a joint operation by the Somali National Army (SNA), with the support of AMISOM forces. More than a month after its capture, Bariire is a largely deserted town, though communities are beginning to return.
During the visit to the agriculturally rich area, the AMISOM delegation interfaced with the local AMISOM and SNA military commanders to have first-hand information on the prevailing security situation. During a guided tour of the town, the delegation guarded by SNA and AMISOM troops met and interacted with a few members of the population who had just recently returned.
The delegation was led by Abdul Diabagate Head of AMISOM’s Humanitarian Liaison Unit comprised of Kareem Adebayo, Head of the Protection, Human Rights and Gender Cell; Dr Walters Samah, Head of Joint Mission Analysis Cell; Chief Engineer Andrew Alele; Civil Affairs Officer Christopher Ogwang; Police Deputy Operations Coordinator Saiga Ibrahim and CIMIC Officer Maj. Fred Malegano.
“In order for the local community to overcome their fear of the militants, there is a need to guarantee their security. We have to ensure that Al-Shabaab militants are not going to come and terrorize the people,” Diagabate said. The local community, Diagabate noted, is beginning to regain confidence and return to the area, to resume their daily lives, owing to the presence of AMISOM and SNA forces. Security is improving with the SNA and AMISOM forces working together to restore security and normalcy in the area.
The AMISOM delegation noted that transport movement in the district is a nightmare. Facing military defeat, fleeing Al-Shabaab militants blew up an important bridge, virtually cutting off a section of Bariire district. Diagabate said there was an urgent need to rebuild the bridge.
In Bariire, the SNA and AMISOM troops live in one camp, from where they plan and conduct joint operations. “The situation is gradually improving due to the consolidation process that we have been consistently doing. We sit on a daily basis with the commander of the SNA to plan and send out patrols to exploit places further from our base and this has improved the security situation in the area,” Lt. Col. Patrick Opira, the Commander of Ugandan AMISOM forces in Bariire stated, noting that the population is now gaining confidence and gradually returning to their homes and farms in the area.
The Commander of the SNA in Bariire, Capt. Abdi Ali Rage said that both SNA and AMISOM are motivated to do more to ease the suffering of the local population. “They (local population) will come back if we construct this bridge and liberate the villages and districts near Bariire where the people are suffering under the hands of the enemy,” Capt. Abdi explained. Prior to the capture of the town, most of the local population fled their homes and are now camped in KM 50 and other neighbouring areas.