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EU, UK to pump funds into Somalia security sector

Sunday April 21, 2024

Somali military soldiers take positions in Mogadishu, Somalia on April 27, 2022. PHOTO | REUTERS

Somalia has earned new money to help it upgrade its security services in what officials said will help combat its perennial problem of Al Shabaab.

This week on Tuesday, the European Union (EU) said it had approved €116 million ($117 million) for stabilisation efforts in Somalia via its Political and Security Committee.

The statement stated that, “Council approves further support under the European Peace Facility (EPF) to the Somali National Army (SNA) and to the military component of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis).”

The EU added that it would add $75 million to the resources already mobilised for Atmis in previous years, covering July 1, 2021 to December 31, 2023.

It said that previous support to the peacekeepers under the EPF amounted to €270 million ($271 million).

The agreed funding for Somali National Army amounts to €42 million ($43 million) while, according to the EU, “Previous support to the SNA under the EPF amounts to €50 million ($51 million).”

This came as the UK announced a contribution of $2.8 million in support of Somali security forces via the UN Support Office in Somalia (Unsos).

“The funding will be used to provide non-lethal support to Somali Security Forces in fighting Al Shabaab, including rations, shelter and medevac assistance. The new UK funding will support the provision and transport of resources such as food rations, communication equipment, and tents, and will assist with medical evacuations of SSF troops conducting operations,” a dispatch from the UK Embassy in Mogadishu said.

Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, the head of Unsos, welcomed the contribution by UK.

“Over the years, the UK has been the central donor to the Trust Fund in support of SSF. This most recent contribution shows their unwavering commitment in support of strengthening logistical support and capacity building to the benefit of Somalia’s brave men and women,” said Dr Kacyira.

Britain’s support to Somalia security institutions is not new. It had provided $29.17 million of voluntary contributions in support of Unsos since 2022. It also provides significant financial support to the Atmis, the Embassy said.

In February, UK Minister for Armed Forces, James Heappey, visited Mogadishu, meeting President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at Villa Somalia, as well British soldiers training to SSF.

“Somalia is a key partner to UK and is vital to security and stability across the region,” Mr Heappey said.

“The challenges facing Somalia are complex, but we remain steadfast supporters of the efforts of the Federal Government (of Somalia) to take the fight to Al Shabaab, take greater control of domestic security and deliver a secure and stable future for the Somali people.”

“Today I confirmed to Finance Minister Bihi that the UK has cancelled 100 percent of Somalia’s historic debts. As Somalia’s debt relief champion, we are committed to helping attract investment and grow the Somali economy,” Thomas wrote on X. He did not specify the amount.

In mid-March this year, representatives of the Paris Club met with representatives of Somalia government and reached consensus on a debt cancellation.

The Club’s announcement indicated that debt cancellation came as a result of the Horn of Africa country reaching its Completion Point under the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (Enhanced HIPC) Initiative approval by the Executive Boards of the IMF and the World Bank in December 2023.

The debt owed to Paris Club creditors was estimated to be $2 billion as of January 1, 2023, which means 99 percent of that is now forgiven by the creditors.

Though debt relief gives Mogadishu new eligibility to borrow, the country has said it is prioritising security and improving its local institutions. The Somalia National Army said the funding from the EU will also help it stand on its own when Atmis exits.

“Both actions aim at contributing to the handover of security responsibilities from Atmis to the SNA by allowing the former to fulfill its mandate while strengthening the capacities of the latter,” the EU statement said.

Atmis has fulfilled the first two phases of its drawdown of 5,000 troops, handing over 13 forward operating bases (FOB) to Somalia security forces since the beginning of 2023.

The next drawdown of peacekeepers is expected to be 4,000 before end of June, 2024.

The EU is the largest direct contributor to Atmis, with nearly €2.7 billion ($2.9 billion) since the first contingent arrived in Somalia in 2007.


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