The Ugandan governments says it is still waiting for the United Nations (UN) to compensate the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) for the loss of three Mi-24 attack helicopters which crashed on the slopes of Mount Kenya en-route to deployment as part of the UN-sponsored African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on August 12, 2012.
Three out of four helicopter gunships which had taken off from the Ugandan town of Soroti on their way to reinforce the AMISOM mission in Kismayo crashed into Mount Kenya, killing seven crew. Seven soldiers survived the crash while the other helicopter managed to safely reach its destination.
Ugandan Minister of State for International Affairs Okello Oryem told Sudanese media that following the crashes last year, his country made a formal request to the United Nations seeking compensation for the loss of the aircraft because the accidents happened while they were on the UN-sponsored AMISOM mission.
“‘The matter is still being considered by the UN. We are waiting for conclusions from them. The UN has no way out but to compensate us because what Uganda is doing is on behalf of the international community,” Oryem said.
Speaking at an international conference for Somalia in London last year, President Yoweri Museveni said the UN has a duty to compensate the UPDF for the loss of the choppers so that it can continue providing the air power needed to contain al Shabaab rebels in Somalia.
“In this connection, the UN should replace our gunships that perished in an accident in Kenya on their way to Somalia ? so that we use them as force multipliers (in Somalia),” Museveni said. The cause of the accidents remains unknown although experts have pointed out that pilot error and mechanical faults could be among the causes.
They also warn that because of advanced age, the gunships could have succumbed to aero-dynamic stress which affects the structural integrity of the aircraft. All the aircraft which crashed were acquired by the UPDF from Russia in 2003.