The first ever special force to be tasked specifically with protecting UN personnel has been deployed in Somalia.
The special UN defensive military force moved into Mogadishu International Airport on Sunday following a recommendation by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the Security Council.
The UN Guard Unit (UNGU) is made up 410 troops provided by the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and reports to Nicholas Kay, UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) chief and also the Secretary-General’s special representative for the troubled east African country.
It has been given the status of a “static force” and will be part of the overall UN security concept for Somalia. This will see UNGU provide inner ring static protection for UNSOM and the UN Support Office for the AU Mission in Somalia (UNSOA), both located inside the airport.
“The deployment of UNGU is an important step as we continue to expand operations in support of the Somali people,” Kay said, thanking the government and people of Somalia and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for support and “the protection they provide to the UN”.
Last August a joint AU/UN assessment mission was launched in Somalia as a result of the deteriorating security situation exacerbated by an attack on the UN compound in Mogadishu which saw a UN staff member, three personnel members of a UN contracted company and four non-UN security guards killed.
Following the assessment Ban expressed concerns that political progress made in Somalia as well as military gains achieved against Al-Shabaab “are in serious danger of being reversed”.
A follow-up letter to the UN Security Council outlined specific responsibilities of UNGU. This included that it would comprise a guard battalion and an extraction and reinforcement team, supported by “an adequately composed logistic company”.