More troops needed for Somalia mission..

Halkaan ka akhri

Gen. Wamala inspecting guard of honour mounted by the AMISOM Uganda Contingent troops on arrival in the Somali capital Mogadishu

THE African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) needs as many as 40,000 troops to get the job done. The stark assessment was made Tuesday by the Force Commander of AMISOM Maj. Gen. Mugisha at the AMISOM Uganda contingent headquarters in Mogadishu while briefing Commander of Land Forces General Katumba Wamala and members of diplomatic missions.

The call for the huge increase comes at a time when the AMISOM mission in Somali continues to struggle to raise the original troop strength of 8,000. To date only 6,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi are deployed in the Mogadishu area. AU members including Ghana and Nigeria have promised but have not deployed the required additional troops.

According to Gen. Mugisha, the original troop strength made sense three year ago because the Al-Shabaab fighters were relatively less organized and lacked the capacity to further destabilize Somalia. However, the situation has since changed as more hardened resistance fighters from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have joined the fray, resulting in a much more formidable and sophisticated front against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) led by President Yusuf Ahmed.

“Further complicating the picture is the unchallenged flow arms and other contrabands into Somali through the Kismayo port which is under the control of Al-Shabaab, the lack of political will among the TFG leadership to create a coherent and unified front, and weak centralized command over forces loyal to the TFG.

The General further argued that the stabilization of Somali on land will vastly improve maritime security for international shipping in the Gulf which is frequently attacked by organized pirates who use ports under the control of the Al-Shabaab.

“With just a fraction of the resources currently being poured into protecting international shipping, AMISOM would make greater gains on the ground, which in turn will clear up the problem of piracy and lawlessness along the Somali coastline and hinterland”, he pointed out.

General Mugisha, however praised the gains made so far with the small force on the ground.

The AMISOM troops currently hold 8 of the 16 districts in the Mogadishu area including the Airport, Presidential Palace, Mogadishu University and Mogadishu Port.

“We are currently working to bring under our control 4 more districts. The resistance movements have control over 4 districts including Wardiglei, Yaqshid, Huriwa and Karan.”

Since its deployment in March 2007, the AMISOM mission has seen increase in air traffic from once a week to almost half a dozen everyday at Mogadishu airport.

The mission is also involved in providing humanitarian assistance to Mogadishu residents including healthcare, water and food supplies as well as fire protection services.

Source: New Vision

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