AU Reassures Somalia Amid ATMIS Troop Withdrawal

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2710 (2023) mandates that ATMIS withdraw 4,000 troops in the third phase of troop withdrawal, to be replaced by Somali security forces.

On Sunday, the African Union’s (AU) senior envoy to Somalia reassured Somalis that the withdrawal of troops from the country will not lead to a “security vacuum.”

During a visit to Jowhar, south-central Somalia, AU Special Representative for Somalia Mohamed El-Amine Souef stated that the pan-African body will not abandon Somalia even as the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) prepares to withdraw an additional 4,000 troops by the end of June.

Advertisements emphasized Souef’s reassurance, saying, “Even as ATMIS troops draw down, we will ensure there is no security vacuum.” This statement followed a two-day visit to Jowhar, according to a statement issued in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Saturday night.

Coordination for the transition will involve the federal member states (FMS), the Somali government, and international partners, according to Souef.

While visiting, Souef praised the Burundian troops for their efforts in countering and degrading al-Shabab, urging continued vigilance and collaboration with the Somali security forces and the local community.

Part of the AU envoy’s tour of the FMS, the visit aimed to assess the operational preparedness, welfare, and morale of troops as the African body prepares a follow-up mission after the exit of ATMIS.

Assessing the work of the contingent, Souef reported positive feedback from everyone met, including the president, civil society representatives, elders, and local authority officials. They praised the contingent’s commitment, experience, and willingness to support and assist in civil-military cooperation and security.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2710 (2023) stipulates that ATMIS is mandated to withdraw 4,000 troops in the third phase of troop withdrawal, to be replaced by Somali security forces.

Acknowledging the commitment and sacrifice of UN and ATMIS personnel stationed in Jowhar, Souef expressed confidence in Somalia’s recent election to the UN Security Council, its admission to the East African Community, and the lifting of the arms embargo as positive signs for the country’s future and the entire continent.

ATMIS had already withdrawn 5,000 troops from Somalia and handed over 17 military bases to the Somali security forces during the first and second phases of the drawdown concluded in 2023.

Reiterating the AU mission’s commitment, Marius Ngendabanka, ATMIS deputy force Commander in charge of operations and plans, emphasized ongoing efforts to strengthen peacebuilding in the region and collaborate with the Somali National Army to secure Hirshabelle State.

“We are here to help Somalia restore peace and stability, and we will continue working toward achieving this noble goal,” stated Ngendabanka.

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