Somalia: UN envoy calls for African peacekeeping force to reach full strength

1 November 2011

The United Nations envoy for Somalia has stressed the need to bring the strength of the African Union peacekeeping force in the Horn of Africa country to the 12,000 troops mandated by the Security Council, adding that the force also needs the capacity to deal with unconventional tactics of war.

Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, told a news conference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, yesterday that Al Shabaab insurgents, who are opposed to Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), were increasingly resorting to unconventional warfare, especially the use of bombs and other explosives to carry out acts of terrorism against civilians.

“In this last effort to clear Al Shabaab in north-eastern corner of the city [Mogadishu], we are witnessing a combination” of conventional warfare methods and terrorist attacks, said Mr. Mahiga.

“It is, of course, quite a challenge and in a sense an important reminder to the troop-contributing countries and to the international community that we must expedite the deployment of the remaining 3,000 troops which have been authorized by the Security Council.

“There is the need for reorientation of the fighting forces of AMISOM [African Mission in Somalia] to deal with these unconventional methods of warfare,” he said.

Asked about the presence of Kenya troops in Somalia, Mr. Mahiga said the decision to deploy Kenyan forces was a bilateral one between the two countries and was in no way related to the deployment of AMISOM, which has a Security Council mandate.

There are currently 9,000 AMISOM troops in Somalia, including a police element – all of them from Uganda and Burundi, according to Mr. Mahiga. He said there were indications that Djibouti and Sierra Leone could provide some of the 3,000 soldiers required to bring the peacekeeping force to its authorized maximum strength.


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