The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Ambassador Boubacar Diarra, has urged the United Nations (UN) and the international community to expedite the replacement and deployment of Uganda's helicopters that crashed on their way to Somalia.
Three Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) Mi-24 choppers crashed on Sunday in the jungles of Mt. Kenya.
These were part of a fleet of four that left Soroti to Garissa en route for Somalia for war with the Al-Shabaab militants.
"As AMISOM continues to expand into open country, the deployment of these long awaited enablers, authorized under UN Security Council Resolution 2036, remains critical for operational, as well as logistical support and medical evacuation," he said in a statement obtained by The New Times yesterday.
He said despite the setback, AMISOM remained committed to improving the security of the people of Somalia.
"At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the bereaved, as well as with the people and Government and security forces of Uganda," said Ambassador Diarra.
"We are gravely concerned for the safety of those still unaccounted for and continue to pray that they will be recovered unharmed".
Meanwhile, the Ugandan army yesterday identified the two Air Force officers who died in the multiple helicopter crashes.
"Capt. William Letti and Lt Patrick Nahamya were Pilot and Co-Pilot of Helicopter no AF 806, MI 24. The search for the rest of the crew members of this chopper still continues," UPDF spokesperson, colonel Felix Kulayigye said in a statement.
The helicopters landed at Eldoret over the weekend and later left for Nanyuki where they were scheduled to refuel before flying to Garissa. While one helicopter made it to Garissa as scheduled, three went missing.