An indication of the importance attached to the African Union (AU) mission in Somalia comes in troop numbers currently standing at 18,586, which is over two thousand more than deployed with the largest United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – the world body’s largest.
ATMIS (AU Transition Mission in Somalia) came into being when the previous continental mission – AMISOM (AU Mission in Somalia) was reconfigured with UN Security Council authorisation in April this year.
The major component of the ATMIS mandate is to implement the Somali transition plan (STP), a strategic plan setting out in detail the handover of security responsibilities from the AU to Somalia’s federal government.
Troop contributing countries are Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti with soldiers and support personnel deployed throughout south-central Somalia. At present troops are currently divided into six sectors pending reconfiguration.
Sectors are numbered, with one the responsibility of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF); two the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF); three the Ethiopia National Defence Forces (ENDF); four the Djibouti Armed Forces (DJAF) with support from the ENDF; five the Burundi National Defence Forces (BNDF) and six, where Ethiopia and Kenya are jointly responsible.
All ATMIS troops have five mandates with number one the execution of joint, planned and targeted operations with the Somali security forces to “degrade” al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups according to the mission.
Other mandate components are to provide security and protection for Somalis, secure and ensure main supply routes remain open and develop Somali security force capacity with a view to taking over national security responsibility.
This includes capacity building in the areas of force generation, operational maintenance and logistic support.
If and when domestic disputes arise ATMIS personnel have to remain politically neutral and prioritise protection of civilians.
- A Tell report