Burundi donates helicopters for Al-Shabaab war in Somalia

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Burundian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers stand in formation during a ceremony as they prepare to leave the Jaale Siad Military Academy after being replaced by the Somali military in Mogadishu, Somalia, February 28, 2019 [File: Feisal Omar/Reuters]

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The government of Burundi has donated four helicopters to Somalia for ongoing operations against Al-Shabaab militants, in a bid to give Somali Security Forces support for the crackdown, which was activated in 2022 when President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took over.

The helicopters, Souef Mohamed El-Amine said, will be delivered to the country in due course. This will certainly augment ATMIS operational support to SSF; a significant step towards achieving an orderly and smooth transition, the peacekeeping boss said.

According to Souef, operational and military successes, while significant, are not enough to degrade and ultimately defeat Al-Shabab. They must be supplemented by other enabling elements, such as dedicated support to the FGS’ reconciliation and stabilization efforts, comprising the promotion of social cohesion, he added.

Last month, the government of Somalia requested a technical pause on the withdrawal of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] troops, citing logistical challenges. The AU consequently, halted the withdrawal of 3,000 soldiers which was due on September 30th.

The African Union's decision to support the technical pause was due to its recognition of Somalia's operational realities, including successes and setbacks in the ongoing offensive against Al-Shabaab, Souef said. The Federal Government's request also represented a pragmatic response to the current security transition realities.

The international community, he said, must aim to avail the SSF with the necessary firepower to take over security responsibilities while also undertaking an offensive against Al Shabab. In this context, this Council should, as a first step in November, consider lifting the current arms embargo on Somalia, he averred in a presentation before the United Nations Security Council.

The technical pause of the Phase 2 drawdown will now provide Somalia, ATMIS, and key partners the opportunity to secure the collective gains we have all made in Somalia. The pause will create space and time for a re-assessment of the operational needs of the Somalia National Army to defeat Al-Shabaab.

Somalia anticipates that by December 2024, Al-Shabaab militants will have been dislodged from strategic towns across the country. To this effect, the Somali National Army would take over security responsibilities from the ATMIS contingent.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is currently in central Somalia for morale boosting of the troops after visiting Hudur in Southwest state. The president had also requested Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti to dispatch non-ATMIS troops for three months to assist in the war.

GAROWE ONLINE

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