Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya to dispatch additional troops to Somalia

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NAIROBI - To sustain the ongoing crackdown against Al-Shabaab, Somalia's neighboring frontline countries are set to dispatched more troops to the Horn of Africa nation, it has now emerged, in a decision which comes almost a month after a special meeting in Mogadishu, the Somalia capital.

Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti leaders met in Mogadishu last month to discuss the progress in the fight against Al-Shabaab, noting that there is an urgent need to send more troops to assist the country in the latest crackdown against the Al-Qaida associates who are battling to topple the fragile UN-backed federal government of Somalia.

And barely a month after the meeting, the three countries have decided to add more soldiers to the Horn of Africa nation to aid in flushing out the militants who have lately lost some of their strongholds in central and southern regions following the sustained operations.

However, soldiers will not be factored into the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] component who are mandated to coordinate peace efforts in the country. Currently, there are close to 22,000 soldiers from ATMIS troops contributing nations who are paid by the international partners in Somalia.

This will be the first time Kenya and Djibouti are sending non-ATMIS soldiers to Somalia but previously, Ethiopia has done so. The federal republic of Ethiopia dispatched at least 1000 soldiers who were not attached to AMISOM leading to complaints from the Jubaland authorities.

Ethiopian non-ATMIS troops were accused of perpetuating atrocities in Jubaland and Southwest but the African Union never responded to the claims. In Jubaland for instance, they were accused of plotting to overthrow the regional administration at the behest of former President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

National Security Adviser Hussein Sheikh Ali told VOA the non-ATMIS troops are expected to be dispatched to the country soon but did not give the exact number. It is believed that Somalia is projecting to defeat Al-Shabaab by the end of this year before ATMIS troops hand over security responsibilities to the Somali National Army [SNA].

ATMIS soldiers in Somalia are funded by stakeholders such as the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union among others, with most countries paying them on their own budgets before getting a refund. ATMIS along with the US Africa Command has been lauded for its critical role in the Al-Shabaab war.

Currently, the government troops with assistance from local militia, US Africa Command, and ATMIS have managed to liberate several strategic towns in the country, boosting efforts to secure the Horn of Africa nation from the militants. Al-Shabaab has been fighting since 2007, killing thousands in the process despite suffering massive losses.

GAROWE ONLINE

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