Somalia

Somalia: Mali and Uganda want slice of donor money for Amisom

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By HALIMA ABDALLAH

In Summary

- Information posted on the official UN-EU website (www.eu-un.euoropa.eu/articles) shows that in April, the European Union Commission pledged Euro 60 million ($84 million) to support Somali's security institutions and Amisom.

- There is also an additional Euro 215.4 million ($301.5 million) to support activities for the five years between 2008 and 2013.

- Other support was to be given in kind, such as armoured vehicles, personnel protective equipment, tents and accommodation.

A behind-the-scenes battle for control of money for peacekeeping activities in Somalia is brewing between Mali and Nigeria, on the one hand, and Uganda and Burundi on the other, as it emerges that donors will soon be releasing an enhanced financial package to support AU troops in the wartorn country.

Although donors to Amisom - the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia - had initially refused to disburse funds meant for the peacekeepers' allowances for lack of accountability, this is likely to change in the near future as new commitments for support come on board.

The EastAfrican has learnt that the European Union and the United Nations Security Council have signed packages that will see increased financing and logistics flowing to the peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

The EU is tightlipped about the level of its support - "I don't want to make any declarations about that," said EU ambassador to Uganda Vincent de Visscher.

To the annoyance of countries such as Uganda and Burundi, which were the first to put troops on the ground in Mogadishu, the promise of money has now caught the attention of countries that failed to deliver on their promises for troops.

Now they want to deploy small teams to manage the mission's logistics.

"Since the UN has taken over the logistical support of the mission, other countries are saying they want to participate in administering the logistics but without being on the ground," Uganda army spokesman Lt Col. Felix Kulaigye said.

The African Union's Deputy Special Representative for Somalia, Wafula Wamunyinyi, confirmed that Amisom's Strategic Planning and Management Unit had recommended that the mission needed support to the force headquarters in Mogadishu and had zeroed in on Mali for the task.

"I know Mali is considering sending in technical military officers to the force headquarters, about 15 of them.

"The officers will be responsible for logistics, human resource, personnel and general operations within the mission. Officers with experience in the running of a mission and providing support to the force commander," Mr Wamunyinyi said.

But the Force Commander does not share this view.

"If they are technical, why don't they bring their expertise on the ground? That is what we want. Not at the headquarters. It is more practical to deliver that service on the ground," Amisom commander Maj-Gen Nathan Mugisha said.

He added: "That is the problem, and that is why we are telling them to bring in their servicemen before they can think of deployment at the force headquarters. - because at the headquarters, you are providing service to the men. So where are the men to be served? You need to first of all have the men."

In 2006, when the United Nation Security Council approved a resolution authorising an African peacekeeping force in Somalia, only Uganda and Burundi responded.

At the time, it was estimated that 8,000 troops would suffice.

The two countries have raised just over 5,000, leaving a deficit of 3,000 troops.

Today, according to peacekeepers on the ground, Somalia needs 10,000 to 15,000 troops.

But AU countries are still reluctant to send in their fighters, given the risky situation prevailing in Somalia.

While some diplomatic sources within the EU zone feigned ignorance about the support, other sources said the support coming from the EU's security department is a sensitive security matter about which publicity could make EU citizens targets for terror attacks.

It is understood that the EU has committed itself to providing funds for the training of Somalia's security forces and extension of humanitarian assistance to civilians.

Some 2,000 recruits to the Somali national army will be trained in Uganda.

This will be part of efforts to build the capacity of the federal government to counter Al Shabaab insurgents that have exploited the administrative vacuum to established training bases in the desert and in parts under their control.

The EU money will be channelled through Amisom's logistical base in Nairobi.

The UN is expected to provide logistical support, such as fuel, vehicle maintenance, food and drugs to the peacekeeping force.