GOOBJOOG NEWS/NEW YORK: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recommended to the Security Council that the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia maintain its Somalia troops through the end of the year, in a letter obtained by AFP on Tuesday.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which consists of 20,000 soldiers, police and civilians, has been instrumental in supporting the fragile Somali government against incessant attacks by jihadist insurgents.
As AMISOM’s mandate which expires on 31st March draws closer, the UN Security Council is expected to vote on March 30 to replace it with a new mission, the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).
In his letter, which was delivered on Monday to the Security Council, Guterres suggested to the Security Council that a plan to gradually reduce ATMIS in four phases should be put in place “to enable and support Somali security forces to take primary responsibility for security in Somalia by the end of 2023” with a total military departure in 2024.
The UN chief further said that under the plan, ATMIS’s first reduction of 2,000 troops would not occur until after December 2022, with more decreases in each phase.
“It is important that existing uniformed troop levels are maintained until the end of phase one to ensure that hard-won gains are preserved and to allow for a reconfiguration of the mission without compromising the current security provision,” Guterres explained in his letter.
Given that AMISOM is funded by UN and European Union, Guterres, in his recommendation to the Security Council, does not outline specific financing for ATMIS.
Finally, the UN Secretary-General called on the international community to continue bolstering ATMIS and the Somali security forces, as well as providing specialized capabilities, adding that he was grateful for partners’ prior donations.