After authorizing African Union member states to maintain African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) deployment until May 31, 2020, the United Nations Security Council proceeded to cut the peacekeeping force’s personnel by 1,000.
Seen as untimely, the reduction comes in parallel with a new wave of terror attacks staged by the Al-Shabaab terror group in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Unanimously adopting the UK-proposed resolution 2472 (2019), the 15‑member Council authorized reductions that would set a maximum level of 19,626 uniformed AMISOM personnel by 28 February 2020.
The resolution reduces AMISOM troops but maintains 1,040 police.
Under a transition plan agreed on in 2017, AMISOM will gradually hand over security to Somali forces, but the African Union has raised concern about the extra responsibility as the country heads to elections next year.
AMISOM includes peacekeeping forces from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. The UN is seeking to consolidate stability in Somalia where al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab fighters have been seeking to overthrow the government for a decade.
Somali representative to the United Nations, Mohamed Rabi Yusuf, paid tribute to the AU for standing by his country through its darkest days and said Somalia has changed over the last decade.
“Long-term peace will require security gains consolidated by good governance, investment and sustainable development,” he told the UNSC.
Acknowledging that AMISOM cannot stay in Somalia forever, he underscored the Government’s commitment to a transitional plan that would enable the Mission’s personnel to leave a noble legacy.
A joint security review prepared by the AU and UN submitted to the council last May raised concerns about al Shabab attacks in Mogadishu. Notably, these attacks witnessed the firing of mortar attacks on UN mission sites in January.
In March alone, al Shabaab carried out two major attacks in Mogadishu using 28 explosive devices.