Progress Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the situation in Somalia/AMISOM
This progress report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 11 of the Communiqué of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) adopted at its 848th meeting on 9 May 2019 held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in which Council requested the Commission to work closely with the United Nations (UN) to monitor implementation of the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and ensure timely quarterly reports to the PSC on the situation in Somalia.
In the same vein, the UN Security Council in paragraph 32 of resolution 2472 (2019), requested the AU to keep it informed every 90 days, through the UN Secretary-General, on the implementation of AMISOM’s mandate. The UN Security Council further requested that the report on AMISOM should include a focus on the following areas: (a) joint operations in support of the Transition Plan, including the use and effectiveness of coordination mechanisms; (b) performance issues, including command and control and conduct and discipline; (c) measures taken to protect civilians; (d) equipment provision; and (e) a reconfiguration plan on locations for drawdown determined by a threat assessment of AMISOM. In this context, the present progress report covers the period from June to August 2019 and provides an update on the situation in Somalia since the renewal of AMISOM mandate and authority by the AU PSC and the UN Security Council on 9 and 31 May 2019, respectively.
II. MAIN POLITICAL AND RELATED DEVELOPMENTS
In line with its mandate and tasks outlined in the PSC communique of its 848th meeting, as well as the additional tasks outlined in the UN Security Council resolution 2472 (2019), AMISOM continues to support the efforts of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) in ensuring the security conditions and enabling environment to facilitate political, stabilization, reconciliation and peace-building processes across Somalia. This is contributing towards ensuring on-going political processes in Somalia, including AMISOM’s support to the FGS’ efforts to unify the parties of the Galmudug crises, and the signing of the agreement between the FGS and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a (ASWJ) on 3 July 2019. These processes are expected to contribute to the integration of ASWJ into the National Security Architecture of Somalia and ensure the conduct of credible State elections. AMISOM will thus continue to enhance its operational and political support to FGS reconciliation and integration efforts across Somalia.
In the same vein, and as part of efforts to promote transparent, fair, credible and peaceful State elections, AMISOM increased its civilian presence in Jubbaland in support of its uniformed personnel and in preparation of the Jubbaland elections scheduled to take place in July and August 2019. As a result, AMISOM is enhancing its engagement with relevant stakeholders, including Jubbaland authorities, in support of efforts to ensure free and fair elections in Jubbaland.
At the federal level, the FGS continues to enhance its efforts to prepare for universal elections in 2020/21. In this context, the AU Department of Political Affairs has contributed to AMISOM’s efforts through the implementation of various capacity building initiatives in support of efforts of the FGS and Federal Member States (FMS) to guarantee effective planning, conduct and security of the 2020/21 elections. This includes a workshop, held from 17 to 21 June, aimed at enhancing the capacity of Somali election stakeholders in developing an election security strategy and mechanisms for managing electoral disputes.
Consistent with the Communiqué of the 848th meeting of the PSC and the UN Security Council resolution 2472 (2019), efforts have also been made to enhance coordination and collaboration between AMISOM and the UN, including through the monthly Senior Leadership Coordination Forum (SLCF) between AMISOM and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the monthly AMISOM-United Nation Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) meetings. These mechanisms are enhancing joint decision making and alignment of operational efforts in the promotion of peace, security, stability and reconciliation in Somalia. The monthly SLCF is now complemented by the re-vitalised tripartite meetings among AMISOM, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and UNSOM, to better enhance coordination and implementation of joint strategic initiatives.
III. SECURITY SITUATION
Al-Shabaab continues to maintain its presence in South Central Somalia, with sustained use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs)/vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), under vehicle improvised explosive devices (UVIEDs), ambushes along major supply routes (MSR), and other asymmetric tactics, including mortar attacks, suicide bombings, probing attacks and targeted assassinations. The re-emergence of the pro-Islamic State factions in Somalia (IS-Somalia) also poses a new challenge to AMISOM and the FGS. As a result, the overall security situation in Somalia remains fluid and unpredictable, particularly with the increasing use of women by Al-Shabaab, as recently witnessed in the attack on the Banadir Regional Administration’s Office in Mogadishu.
Despite the efforts of AMISOM and the international community to degrade Al-Shabaab and other armed opposition groups, Al-Shabaab remains a serious threat to security and stability across Somalia. This is as a result of Al Shabaab’s capacity to continue its recruitment, training and deployment of fighters, both local and foreign, as well as its ability to raise considerable revenue, through extortion, Zhakat collection and imposed levies on businesses across South Central Somalia. Furthermore, Al-Shabaab still has the capacity to operate in unrecovered areas and within population centers where it plans and launches asymmetric attacks against AMISOM and Somali Security Forces (SSF), key government officials and installations, as well as civilians.
Despite Al-Shabaab and other armed opposition groups’ continued threat to security and stability in Somalia, AMISOM maintains presence in the sectors set out in its 2018 – 2021 Concept of Operations (CONOPs). In this regard, and in collaboration with SSFs, AMISOM continues to conduct defensive and offensive operations, including targeted operations and combat patrols to deter Al-Shabaab actions and to protect civilians. AMISOM also continues to secure MSRs and protect population centres in its operational areas and provide airport and seaport security as well as convoy escorts to ensure safe movement of people and goods, distribution of humanitarian assistance, and enabling the FGS and FMS’ to facilitate governance initiatives and support to the population.
IV. JOINT OPERATIONS IN SUPPORT OF THE SOMALIA TRANSITION PLAN
In accordance with the PSC communique of its 848th meeting and UNSCR 2472 (2019), AMISOM has registered significant progress in enhancing coordination, joint planning and joint operations with SSFs. In this regard, and in support of efforts of the SSFs in implementing the Somalia Transition Plan (STP), AMISOM conducted several targeted offensive operations aimed at disrupting and degrading Al-Shabaab and other armed opposition groups. AMISOM also collaborated with the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in mitigating the threat posed by IEDs.
To sustain and continue enhancing current operational coordination and consultation among AMISOM, FGS and Partners, AMISOM convened several operational coordination meetings. This includes AMISOM’s facilitation of the weekly Senior Leadership Military meetings, the weekly Joint Briefing and Intelligence Sharing Meetings, the quarterly Sector Commanders’ Conference, also attended by the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) of the Somali National Army (SNA) and partners, as well as the Joint Security Meetings with SSF and Partners at Sector level.
AMISOM has also recorded significant progress in strengthening command and control of its personnel. This includes increased enhancement of operational command of AMISOM forces by the Force Commander while Sector Commanders retain tactical command of the forces under their command. The Force Commander also issues routine policy related instructions, orders and directives to Sector Commanders for the conduct of operations in accordance with AMISOM’s mandate and in support of the STP. In addition, the Sector Commanders have instituted measures to enhance performance and address related issues, including through joint planning, mentoring and coordination of SNA tactical commanders prior to operations, establishment of joint operations centres at tactical level as well as coordination and harmonisation of communication processes for operating troops.
As guided by the 2018-2021 AMISOM CONOPS, AMISOM and SSFs, continue to conduct joint operations across AMISOM sectors in support of the STP. In this context, significant progress was achieved in the implementation of Phase one (1) activities of the STP, including through mentoring and assisting the 53rd, 143rd, Eagle, 27th and RECCE battalions of SNA. This was achieved through combat readiness mentoring and co-location of AMISOM forces with SNA, in line with the Somalia National Security Architecture and the STP. Although mentoring of SNA is challenged due to limited SNA personnel numbers, administration and logistics, the joint operations conducted led to the capture and establishment of Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) in Sabid, Bariire, Ceel Salini and Ceel Gelow, in the Lower Shabelle region. This has also contributed to the degrading of Al Shabaab capabilities and enhanced protection of population centres and security of the MSRs in these locations.
Relatedly, AMISOM mentored 3,251 Somali Police personnel deployed in 31 operational Police stations in Somalia on various policing themes and provided operational support to enhance the delivery of professional, responsive and robust policing services across Somalia. Similarly, and in line with the STP, AMISOM provided capacity building support to the SPF through the conduct of refresher and specialized training, including Community Policing and Human Rights, Community Policing and De-radicalization, and Training of Trainers (TOT) to enhance policing skills as part of efforts to facilitate the gradual transfer of security responsibilities from AMISOM to SSFs.
V. EQUIPMENT PROVISION AND MEASURES TAKEN TO INCREASE ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY OF UNSOS SUPPORT TO AMISOM
As outlined in the UNSCR 2472 (2019), significant progress has been registered in developing measures to increase accountability, efficiency and transparency of UNSOS support to AMISOM. To this end, AMISOM has completed and shared with UNSOS the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on Handover/Closure of FOBs and on the Management of Transit Camps to ensure enhanced efficiency and management of such processes. Likewise, the AMISOM-UNSOM Compact 2019, designed to address existing support gaps and enhance AMISOM’s role in support of the STP, is in the final stages of completion.
Furthermore, significant steps have also been taken to ensure a phased approach towards achieving equipment optimization within available resources. In this regard, AMISOM participated in the preparation of the Statement of Unit Requirements at the Military Strategic Support Group (MSSG) Workshop in Addis Ababa from 30 June to 5 July 2019. The workshop was also attended by Operations and Logistics experts from the UN Office to the AU (UNOAU). Accordingly, plans are underway to conduct the AMISOM equipment review in September 2019 to determine priority equipment for all AMISOM components, including enablers and force multipliers that are fit for purpose, in order to enable AMISOM to more effectively discharge its mandated tasks.
In addition, AMISOM continues to participate in various logistics meetings, including the weekly logistics coordination meetings with UNSOS, convenes the quarterly logistics conference/workshop with all the Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) and provides weekly and monthly returns on logistics and general supplies. These efforts are also geared towards ensuring increased capacity building of its logisticians through regular in-mission and on-the-job training and harmonization of logistical processes. This includes through co-location/deployments of AMISOM staff with UNSOS transport unit and UNSOS construction and engineering units respectively.
Since the last report on AMISOM, UNSOS (working closely with AMISOM) has made tremendous efforts to align its logistical support to meet AMISOM priorities and the STP. In this respect, UNSOS, in coordination with AMISOM Mission Support Section and partners, continues to facilitate the provision of essential support to AMISOM components. This is in accordance with the STP and aimed at ensuring effective logistics support to sector logistics hubs, battalion logistic locations, police team sites and FOBs to guarantee support to AMISOM’s current and planned future operations.
VI. COMPLIANCE AND MITIGATION MEASURES
AMISOM continues to implement the mandated and authorised tasks in the AUPSC communique of its 848th meeting and UNSCR 2472, including through ensuring that its operations are conducted in strict compliance with applicable International Humanitarian Law (IHL), International Human Rights (IHRL) and in line with the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP). To this end, AMISOM conducted series of Pre-Deployment Training (PDT) and In-Mission Training on IHRL, IHL, Child Protection, Women Protection, activities of the Civilian Casualties, Tracking, Analysis and Response Cell (CCTARC), Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA), Conduct and Discipline, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and Conflict Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) for its uniformed personnel. In the period under review, visits were also made to three of the AMISOM TCCs to enhance support to PDTs. Through these training programmes, AMISOM outlines the obligations of uniformed personnel in respecting and protecting human rights, emphasizes the need to uphold the highest standards of transparency, conduct and discipline and ensure strict adherence to IHL principles and relevant international norms and standards in the conduct of military operations.
In fulfilment of its obligations to investigate all allegations on AMISOM personnel, AMISOM continues to ensure effective monitoring, investigation and reporting on all allegations of abuses of IHRL, IHL and conduct and discipline through the activities of the CCTARC and the Protection, Human Rights and Gender (PHRG) Unit of the mission. Additionally, the mission conducts gender sensitization visits across its sectors to raise awareness on the need for AMISOM Commanders to ensure effective and meaningful participation of women in all AMISOM operations.
As a result of the considerable efforts facilitated by AMISOM, significant progress has been achieved in ensuring uniformity of reporting to the CCTARC. In addition to establishing mitigation measures to prevent civilian casualties, CCTARC reporting has consistently been integrated into AMISOM reporting mechanisms, as well as in operational guidelines and plans of the mission. It is in this context that AMISOM documented 140 incidents, resulting in 474 civilian casualties, consisting of 219 deaths and 255 wounded from May to July 2019 by other actors, with 03 deaths attributed to AMISOM. In this regard, AMISOM is in the process of investigating the circumstances of the three deaths attributed to AMISOM.
In terms of the Mission’s responses to the findings of its investigations of violations, AMISOM commenced the operationalization of its SOP on Ex-gratia Payments in June 2019. This entails facilitating Ex-Gratia payments to innocent victims (or their families, if deceased) of AMISOM operations in Somalia. In this way, payments were made to five different families in June 2019 amounting to about $30,000.00 (Thirty Thousand United States Dollars). The Mission is currently appraising the suitability of several other beneficiaries that should receive Ex-Gratia payment from AMISOM. Outcomes of this process will be shared in the next report on AMISOM.
AMISOM also made significant achievements in ensuring its obligations to take all possible precautions to protect civilians before, during and after its military operations. In this regard, AMISOM’s Senior leadership undertook a visit to the newly recovered area of Bariire on 13 June 2019 to have first-hand observation on the activities of AMISOM and the SSF operating jointly with AMISOM in that area. In the same vein and consistent with its obligations within the context of HRDDP, AMISOM, in coordination with UNSOS and UNSOM, visited the AMISOM Air Asset Base in Dhobley, AMISOM Sector 2 Headquarters. The visit was aimed at assessing the extent to which AMISOM troops are complying with HRDDP as outlined in the 2016 Letter of Assist (LoA) between the AU, the Government of Kenya and the UN for the deployment and use of the three HD-500 attack helicopters which are being reimbursed by the UN. At the end of the visit, the team of Experts from AMISOM, UNSOS and UNSOM was satisfied that the AMISOM unit in Dhobley is implementing its mandate within the context of the LoA.
In fulfilment of its mandate, AMISOM continues to support Somali federal and regional institutions to strengthen the capacities of the SSF on various Protection matters, including on Protection of Civilians (PoC), SGBV, women and child protection, as well as on the prevention of CRSV. These training programmes are specifically designed to enhance SSF’s compliance with international norms and standards, including applicable IHL and IHRL provisions. The training programmes also avail SSF personnel the imperative of taking appropriate measures to protect women and girls from SGBV and SEA. In the same vein, AMISOM continues to support the FGS in the development of national and regional strategies for preventing and countering violent extremism.
VII. AMISOM RECONFIGURATION
Also in line with the AU PSC communiqué of its 848th meeting and the UNSCR 2472, AMISOM continue to support SSF efforts aimed at improving the security situation to facilitate peacebuilding and state building efforts across Somalia. Besides assisting the SSF in protecting Somali authorities, critical infrastructure, as well as strategic locations and equipment through robust escorts of Very Important Personalities, AMISOM also continues to clear and secure key supply routes. This includes those essential to the delivery of logistics and humanitarian assistance. However, a threat assessment is yet to be conducted, in order to inform AMISOM’s reconfiguration plan on the locations that will be considered to facilitate drawdown of 1000 troops as directed by UNSCR 2472 (2019).
In implementing AMISOM mandated tasks, plans are also underway to expand AMISOM’s presence to Galmudug state and the newly liberated areas in Lower and Middle HirShabelle. Equally, AMISOM will deploy Individual Police Officers (IPOs) and Formed Police Unit (FPU) from Ghana to Mogadishu and FMS that will be decided upon, to ensure enhanced police visibility and improved security. In the meantime, AMISOM expects that the FGS and relevant partners will address the problem of slow generation of SNA and SPF through generation, training and sustained deployment of capable and accountable SSFs in support of the STP.
VIII. STABILISATION AND HUMANITARIAN SITUATION
During the period under review, AMISOM, in coordination with the FGS, through the Ministry of Interior, Federal Affairs and Reconciliation and the Governor of Lower Shabelle, focused its stabilization and early recovery activities in the Lower Shabelle region. Specifically, AMISOM assisted in transporting senior local administrators from Afgooye town to Sabiid and supported the efforts of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force in recruiting, training and mentoring local police personnel. With the FGS providing leadership on all stabilization aspects in the newly recovered areas of Sabiid and Bariire, AMISOM provided access and security to enable early recovery activities. In the same vein, AMISOM, in collaboration with partners, engaged the FGS in the implementation of the National Stabilization Strategy in all FMS with emphasis on four thematic areas namely security and rule of law, local governance, social cohesion and community recovery.
As a consequence of the recent operations in Lower Shabele, AMISOM, together with partners, instituted coordination mechanisms to ensure quick delivery of stabilization and early recovery activities to communities in the recovered areas. Within the context of Strand three (3) of the Comprehensive Approach to Security (CAS) and the FGS National Stabilization Coordination framework, AMISOM supported the delivery of medical response, construction of 70 houses through early recovery initiatives, delivery of humanitarian assistance, installation of street lights, repair of mosques, and sinking of shallow wells at FOBs in the recovered areas of Lower Shabelle. Equally, the recovery of Lower Shabelle towns facilitated the extension of state authority and installation of local governance structures in these localities.
Relatedly, AMISOM included and sequenced early recovery initiatives into the planning of military operations in the Lower Shabelle region and ensured continued support and interaction with communities in the recovered areas. The pre-planned activities provided an opportunity for Civil Military Coordination (CIMIC) related activities to play an important role in ensuring timely provision of community requirements, and as a result, AMISOM completed four of the twelve initiated quick impact projects (QIPs) on livelihood support. Similarly, AMISOM, in collaboration with community-based liaison officers, conducted needs assessment in order to identify appropriate QIPs and other projects in various locations of Jubbaland, South West and HirShabelle States.
Despite sustained efforts to support the establishment of governance and rule of law structures and mechanisms in Lower Shabelle, significant challenges remain. For instance, there are limited facilities to escort and transport relevant local administrators from Afgooye to Sabiid and Bariire. Insecurity still remains in and around Bariire and Sabiid, and more critically, there is no clarity on who will fund the reconstruction of the key bridge in Bariire, which is critical in facilitating movement and ensuring security of Bariire. Nonetheless, the liberation of Sabiid and Barire offers key lessons, including the importance of timely appointment and functioning of local administration to facilitate and coordinate delivery of stabilization efforts and activities, reconciliation and confidence building between and within communities to ensure coherence and synergy among relevant stabilization partners.
Similarly, the humanitarian situation in parts of Somalia remains dire and most challenging, due to reduced resilience of communities, triggered displacement and impeded access to basic services and humanitarian access to those in need. Exclusion and discrimination of socially marginalized groups contributed to high levels of acute humanitarian challenges and lack of protection among some of the most vulnerable people. Disease outbreaks such as acute watery diarrhoea (AWD)/cholera and measles have contributed to preventable deaths across the country.
Consistent with its mandate, AMISOM created the necessary security conditions for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and contributed in the development of an effective approach to protection of civilians. The establishment of Civilian Sector Teams in AMISOM Sectors has considerably facilitated increased engagement and access to the people in need. This includes enhanced engagement with humanitarian agencies and relevant stakeholders and providing lifesaving assistance to population in recovered areas, particularly in areas without humanitarian actors. This has also enabled effective CIMIC and establishing strong and inclusive community relationships.
IX. OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
As AMISOM continues to support the FGS in its security and stabilization efforts, there is need for more progress by the FGS towards ensuring inclusive politics through increased coordination with the FMS. This will help facilitate effective integration of regional forces into the National Security Architecture as well as ensure facilitation of the constitutional review process which will contribute towards guaranteeing credible federal elections in 2021. In this regard, AMISOM Civilian Sector Teams should continue expanding their presence across Somalia, in order to further enhance its support to its uniformed personnel and engage with relevant stakeholders for effective implementation of the STP.
Increased coordination among AMISOM, the UN (UNSOM, UNSOS and UNMAS), the FGS and other international partners has significantly contributed to the implementation of joint initiatives that have aligned strategic and operational efforts in the promotion of peace, security, stability and reconciliation in Somalia. Such coordination needs to be sustained and further enhanced to guarantee achievement of the STP and the gradual handover of security responsibility to SSFs.
However, both AMISOM and FGS continue to face the challenge of Al Shabaab’s use of IEDs/VBIEDs/UVIEDs and other asymmetric tactics, coupled with the re-emergence of IS-Somalia. In this regard, and as Al Shabaab continues to pose serious threat to security and stability across Somalia, AMISOM, with support of the international community, will need to expedite its force generation and training of SSF to engage in joint operations with AMISOM to continue degrading Al-Shabaab’s capabilities, protect population centres and civilians, in order to enhance security and stability, as well as ensure the conditions and enabling environment for political processes and facilitation of humanitarian assistance where it is needed.
In light of the above, the PSC may wish to consider:
a. Encouraging the FGS to continue enhancing its efforts to ensure inclusive politics and increased coordination with the FMS, including through facilitation of the constitutional review process, and planning for the conduct of federal elections in 2021, as well as integration of regional forces into the National Security Architecture.
b. Calling on the FGS to continue enhancing its leadership role in generating and training of SSFs, including ensuring effective coordination of support by international partners to guarantee availability of required capabilities for joint operations with AMISOM as part of efforts aimed at achieving effective implementation of the STP and gradual transfer of security responsibility from AMISOM to SSF.
c. Calling on the Chairperson of the AU Commission to expedite the process of filling outstanding AMISOM leadership and approved vacant staff positions, including civilians, to facilitate expansion of the civilian component across all AMISOM sectors to enhance AMISOM’s support to the implementation of the STP, pursuant to the AUPSC communique of its 848th meeting.
d. Urging the Commission and AMISOM to expedite the conduct of a threat assessment that would inform AMISOMs reconfiguration plan on locations for drawdown of the 1000 troops as directed by UNSCR 2472 (2019) as well as the required process for the conduct of AMISOM’s equipment review as directed by the AUPSC communique of its 848th meeting.