Omar Jamal, Political Secretary of Somali Mission to the United Nations
AU peacekeeping mission expands area of operations in Mogadishu
Somali government and the African Union peacekeeping mission in the Horn of African nation has doubled its area of occupancy from four to eight out of Mogadishu' s sixteen districts.
Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU for Somalia Wafula Wamunyinyi told a news conference in Nairobi this progress has left armed opposition groups led by militant group, Al Shabaab with only four districts under their control while the remaining four are partially under the control of the TFG. "We hope the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) will be able to take charge of these disputed districts with the passing out of one thousand TFG soldiers in Uganda," Wamunyinyi told journalists in Nairobi.
He said the security situation in the bullet-riddled capital, Mogadishu has improved steadily in recent months and attributed these gains to the peacekeepers who he said have pushed deep into Mogadishu and taken the fight to the armed opposition groups. "As we speak now, areas under the control of AMISOM and the Somalia Government constitute closely to fifty percent of Mogadishu," he said.
Wamunyinyi said the AU peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) force has now reached its previously authorised strength of 8,000 following the inclusion of an additional battalion by Burundi in November.
He said Uganda is the other country that has contributed its soldiers to AMISOM.
The Peace and Security Council of the African Union in October decided to enhance the strength of AMISOM in order to meet the prevailing challenges on the ground in Somalia.
The strength of the AMISOM police component is now fixed at 1680 and is composed of 560 experts and eight police units.
This enhancement was necessitated by the fact that from the time of the mission deployment in 2007 to date, the dynamics of the conflict have changed drastically, hence the need for an increased strength.
The Special Representative said recent intelligence reports suggest that leaders of the main armed opposition group, Al Shabaab have fled Mogadishu following their failed Ramadan offensive and that they remain bickering among themselves about who is to blame and how they might move forward. "The truth is that there is no way forward for armed opposition group in Somalia. They are losing ground militarily and they are losing in their mission to win the hearts and minds of Somalis," he stated.
Wamunyinyi pointed out that AMISOM is also working with its partners to train and mentor the Somali military.
"Currently there is a training programme for the TFG military inside Somalia at Al-Jazeera Training Camp. There is also another training programme underway in Uganda with the assistance of the European Union Commission."
The Special Representative said AMISOM, since its deployment in 2007 has effectively secured all necessary humanitarian corridors including the seaport, airport and key streets of Mogadishu which has allowed for humanitarian access to the needy population. "Within its humanitarian facilitation mandate, AMISOM continues to provide free medical care to more than 12,000 people per month at two AMISOM hospitals in Mogadishu," he said.
He noted that the AU peacekeepers also provide roughly 60,000 litres of safe drinking water per day to Somalis living near AMISOM camps.
Somali National News Agency
daily news bulletin.<
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