Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
“Sierra Leone Troops are Active and Proving Well” …Says AMISON Spokesman
Awareness Times
Monday, June 10, 2013

African Union Mission in Somalia’s (AMISOM) Senior Public Information Officer, Mr. Eloi Yao has commended Sierra Leone for being the first country outside East Africa to deploy its troops.

He made this disclosure at a two-day communications workshop organized by the AMISOM in Kampala, Uganda over the weekend.

The workshop was attended by 59 participants from the Troop/Police Contributing Countries (T/PCCs), namely Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ethiopia and Liberia. The main purpose of the workshop for participants to learn from the T/PCCs’ experiences in relation to public information in order to harmonize all communication plans on AMISOM’s work in Somalia.

Addressing the workshop, Mr. Eloi Yao said that Sierra Leone troops constituted AMISOM’s fifth contingent after Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Kenya. He revealed that the Sierra Leone troops were active and proving well, adding that the troops have already reached their deployments in the three Somali cities of Dhobley, Kismayo and Tabdah.

Also presenting a paper on the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) communication strategy on public information about AMISOM and Somalia at the workshop, the RSLAF Media Operations Officer, Captain Yayah Brima, highlighted the various target audiences that are keen about Sierra Leone’s participation in AMISOM amidst Al-Shabab threats.

Captain Brima assured that the key messages were accurately and effectively reaching the various publics through several channels including the media. He appealed that AMISOM’s Key Messages should emphasize AMISOM’s mandate, peace and stability in Somalia and the TCCs’ commitments.

The RSLAF Media Operations Officer proffered a mechanism in managing crisis communication. Captain Brima told the workshop that in addition to the deployment of the mechanized infantry battalion of 850 personnel to AMISOM, Sierra Leone currently deployed staff officers in six different missions, namely the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA).

Declaring the workshop open, the Minister of State of Defense, General Jeje Odongo, said that during the deployment of the Uganda and Burundi contingents to AMISOM in 2007, the Uganda media called the African Union mission as “mission dead on arrival”. He stated that the perception was widely held because of the assumption that if 20,000 American troops had pulled out of Somalia with all their equipment, what would 2,000 “rag-tag” African troops, not so well prepared and equipped, achieve.

The Uganda Defense Minister emphasized that AMISOM should now be described as “mission alive on arrival”. He commended the AMISOM communicators for convincing the world that Somalia was worth supportive amidst the media propaganda. General Odongo revealed that the positive stories about AMISOM and Somalia have convincingly encouraged the United Nations to consider taking over the mission. He assured that Uganda would continue to work with the AU and all the partners to ensure peace and security in Somalia.


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