AU troops lauded role in securing Somalia following decades-long civil war
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somalia has on Saturday joined the rest of the continent in marking Africa Day, with a glowing tribute to the African Union (AU) for its contribution in restoring peace and security in the Horn of Africa country.
The celebrations held in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, were attended by senior officials from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), United Nations and Federal Government of Somalia. Ambassadors of diplomatic missions based in Somalia were also in attendance.
Speaking at the event, Somalia’s Federal Minister of Defence, Hassan Ali Mohamed, lauded AMISOM for its role in securing Somalia, following the decades-long civil war that devastated the country and displaced thousands of civilians.
Mr. Mohamed, who was the chief guest, noted that AMISOM’s objectives were in line with the aspirations of the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) - the forerunner of the African Union.
“The original mission of the OAU was to liberate Africa from colonialism, defend the sovereignty, uphold human rights and restore the dignity of Africans.”
He pointed out that AMISOM was an excellent example of the African Union’s contribution to continental peace and hailed its personnel for the sacrifices made to restore peace and stability in Somalia.
Minister Mohamed, who represented Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, stressed the need for African nations to address the problem of refugees and internally displaced persons to help stem the tide of migration of the continent’s youthful population to Europe.
The event, held under the theme, “Refugees, Returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons; towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa” come at a time when Africa is grappling with an increasing refugee burden caused by conflict and loss of livelihoods.
Ambassador Francisco Madeira, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, in his remarks, emphasized the need for African unity and empowerment.
The Head of AMISOM also hailed Troop and Police Contributing countries for embracing the spirit of pan-Africanism by deploying to Somalia to support peace efforts.
Ambassador Madeira stated; “Somalia, which at one time championed African independence, and freedom, is presently facing difficulties. You understood our cause and left your countries to come and support your brothers in Somalia.”
He observed that AMISOM had supported the rebuilding of Somali State institutions, especially the security sector and also demonstrated the ability to defend the country, citing the recent liberation of Sabiid and Bariire.
The SRCC emphasized the need for continued support to recovery efforts and total liberation of the country from the control of Al-Shabaab and other armed groups.
The Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Somalia, Raisedon Zenenga, paid tribute to the bravery and commitment of AU peacekeepers, adding that AMISOM had helped create an environment for recovery efforts to take place in Somalia.
“No force would have sacrificed like AMISOM has done, and stayed the course,” stated Mr. Zenenga.
Uganda’s Deputy Ambassador to Somalia, Maj. Gen. Nathan Mugisha, who spoke on behalf of the diplomatic corps, called for collective efforts to end human rights violations and displacement in Africa.
“It is our prayer that states endeavor to guarantee citizens’ rights, end internal displacement, address the refugee challenge and encourage the diaspora to return home,” Ambassador Mugisha stated.
AMISOM personnel marked the day with sports competitions and cultural performances followed by Iftar.