Europe plans to cut cash to Amisom by 20 per cent

Amisom soldiers keep watch on the military tanker in Somalia on January 20, 2014. FILE PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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The European Union wants Kenya and Ethiopia soldiers to invade Somali’s Juba Valley region to flush out Al-Shabaab remnants even as they contemplate whittling down their financial support to Africa’s mission in Somalia.

The Sunday Nation has learnt from diplomatic sources that a regional leaders and donors meeting was told that the European Union was planning to cut funding to Amisom by 20 per cent. The meeting also resolved that the major offensive by Kenya and Ethiopia will cut Al-Shabaab route to Kenya.

“EU is seeking to cut funding to Amisom by 20 per cent and they are asking Kenya and Ethiopia forces to launch a major offensive to flush Al-Shabaab from Juba Valley and cut the route to Kenya,” says a high placed diplomatic source, who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Al-Shabaab has for the last one year used Somali’s Juba Valley, which is adjacent to Kenya border, as a route to attack Mandera, Garissa and Lamu. Kenya invaded Somalia to create a buffer in the valley but the plot was lost when they reverted to Amisom.

PERENNIAL SHORTAGES

The EU is the sole source of funds that pay peacekeeping troops of the African Union Mission in Somalia, through the African Peace Facility. It covers allowances for the troops, salaries for civilians as well as logistical, transport, medical and communication costs.

The Somalia mission has suffered perennial shortages of funds, with soldiers on many occasions going for several months without pay.

In July last year EU released €750 million ($1 billion) to Amisom. The Amisom soldiers are paid a mission allowance of $1,028 a month with no other allowances. The government deducts an administration cost of $200, meaning each soldier takes home $828 a month. Since 2004, the EU has provided over €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) of funding.

The news comes at a time when a Kenyan, Lt. General Jonathan Rono, has taken over leadership of the six country Amisom Force from a Ugandan military officer Lt. Gen Andrew Gutti.

The appointment of General Rono as the chief also saw the appointed of Lt. Colonel Paul Njuguna as the Amisom military spokesman. General Rono has visited Kuday Island, liberated by Somali National Army and Amisom troops in March 2015.

According to Amisom, the Island is 120 km south west of Kismayo along the Indian Ocean and was a strategic logistical hub for the Al-Shabaab militants after the fall of Barawe and Kismayo seaports.

Amisom report says that before its liberation, the Al-Shabaab also conducted training for their militia on the island. During his visit there, the Force Commander toured defence positions and interacted with troops.

“Al-Shabaab propaganda will not succeed. Our troops in all the sectors are well placed. Just because they were able to ambush a camp or execute a surprise attack on troops does not mean Al-Shabaab are winning. Al-Shabaab are losing and they have been losing. We will deal them a final blow in the coming few days,” Lt. General Rono told troops in Kuday.

He commended the troops for the commendable job they are doing and dismissed propaganda from the militants, who have used a section of the media to spread false reports that Amisom troops were leaving strategic positions. Lt. General Rono said the Somali National Army and Amisom troops remain steadfast and committed to fulfill the task of keeping Somalia safe and secure.

Amisom reports on their website say that the new the Force commander highlighted logistical challenges in Kuday and other bases and promised that they will be addressed.

He was accompanied to Kuday Island by Amisom Force chief of staff, Brig Gen Cyprien Ndikuriyo, force hq operations staff officer, Lt Col Ahmed, sector five operations officer Col Ndagisimana Diomede and deputy chief military operation officer, Lt. Col Ezra Kukundakwe as well as the commanding officer of sector Kismayo Lt. Col and John Kipya, among others.

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