Somalia Ready to Take Over Security as ATMIS Withdraws

Somalia’s Internal Security Minister, Abdullahi Sheikh Ismail ‘Fartaag’, announced today that Somali armed forces are ready to take over security duties as the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) withdraws by the end of the year.

Minister Fartaag said, “If ATMIS leaves, our replacement forces are ready. There is no doubt that our security forces can take over. We are prepared. Our national forces and heroes are ready to work together to keep the country safe once ATMIS departs.”

ATMIS plans to withdraw 4,000 troops within the next month. They have already pulled out from key regions like Hiiraan, Middle Shabelle, Lower Shabelle, Bay, Bakool, and Jubbaland. Somali forces have already taken over presidential security responsibilities. ATMIS has promised a smooth handover of security to Somali forces by December 2024.

However, there are concerns about a possible security gap that al-Shabaab, a militant group trying to overthrow the Somali government, could exploit. Al-Shabaab, which has between 7,000 and 12,000 fighters, has been resilient and can recruit new members, including children.

Recently, al-Shabaab has increased attacks on security forces and civilians. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) reported more violence and deaths in areas like Lower Shabelle and Mudug, showing the ongoing threat from the group.

International and regional leaders are worried about the ATMIS withdrawal. Leaders from countries like Uganda and Kenya have asked to reconsider the withdrawal timeline, stressing the need to match the drawdown with the actual security situation to prevent a rise in militant activity.

The UN human rights expert on Somalia, Isha Dyfan, urged Somali authorities to do more to protect civilians and address human rights abuses. Dyfan called for actions against officials who violate citizens’ rights and stressed the need to improve the ability to investigate and prosecute cases of sexual and gender-based violence.

The Somali government, with help from international partners, continues to strengthen its security forces to handle the country’s complex security challenges. The African Union, along with the United Nations and other partners, is creating a plan for after ATMIS leaves to keep Somalia’s security efforts on track and avoid a security gap, aiming for long-term stability and peace in Somalia.

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