Second ATMIS troop withdrawal set for September

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Six former ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) forward operating bases (FOBs) are now manned and managed by Somali Security Forces (SSF) with plans well in hand for a second 3 000 troop withdrawal in September.

On hand last week in the east African country was a high-level African Union (AU) delegation to evaluate the first troop withdrawal, called a “drawdown” by the East African Community (EAC). That saw 2 000 troops exit the FOBs Xaaji Cali, Mirtiquo, Cadale, Albao, Gherille and Al Jazeera 1. SSF were “gifted” generators, water treatment plants and solar panels among others at the FOBs.

AU Director Conflict Management Dr Alhaji Sarjoh Bah said post the four-day evaluation visit: “We came to discuss and engage with ATMIS, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), the United Nations (UN) and other International partners on the transition processes and requirements of the new UN Security Council resolution for the next phase of the drawdown in September and involves further withdrawal of 3 000 ATMIS troops”.

A joint technical assessment is set for August to finalise September’s withdrawal.

Speaking after the FOB handover Somali Minister of Defence, Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, said the handover came at a time with “remarkable gains” achieved in the fight against Al-Shabaab over the past year.

“Many of our partners took a huge risk when they deployed to Somalia over a decade ago. The risk yielded positive results and Somalia’s progress is clear. Somali security forces improved capacity and we need more support from development partners to reach the desired end state.

“ATMIS remains essential to Somalia’s progress and its presence is critical at this juncture as Somalia moves into the next chapter of security ownership across the country,” Nur said.