2 October 2013

Somalia: Amisom Spokesman - More Troops, Aid Needed for Somalia

Mogadishu — The African Union Mission in Somalia has made progress in many areas -- such as boosting security and fostering reconciliation among tribes -- but much more work needs to be done, AMISOM spokesman Colonel Ali Aden Humad said.

"Today we can see that life has returned to Mogadishu, and international flights with passengers are arriving and departing," he told Sabahi. "We see many people who have hope in Somalia's development, either Somali nationals coming back to their country or non-Somalis saying, 'How can we take part in the development of the country?' Every day, there are [many foreign] governments meeting with the Somali government."

But to accomplish its mission, AMISOM needs the international community and other African countries to step up aid to Somalia, particularly for the country's security forces, he said.

"Somali forces get training but they have to be given weapons, have to be built up and have to be given a salary," Humad said.

He also called for reinforcement troops for AMISOM from African countries that have no troops in Somalia at present.

"Soldiers are needed. Weapons are needed," he said. "Some will train, others will ensure security. Other soldiers will work on construction. The task is very broad [so] there is no doubt additional troops are needed."

"Every African country has a responsibility to help Somalia. The rest of the world can provide assistance as well," Humad said.

Humad thanked the public for supporting AMISOM, and he appealed to Somalis to support their country's government and all those who are helping them.

'Many things have changed'

Members of the Somali public who live in areas liberated from al-Shabaab control say their lives have improved remarkably, thanks to AMISOM's help.

"Things are not the same as when al-Shabaab was ousted from the capital city," said Dahir Muse, a 27-year-old University of Somalia public health graduate.

"Many things have changed and every Somali can see for himself how the capital is being rebuilt, whereas only several years ago, it was a war zone controlled by al-Shabaab," he told Sabahi. "I believe AMISOM troops and the assistance they receive from the international community should be increased."

AMISOM has restored hope among the Somali people, said Zamzam Hirsi, 32, who studied international affairs at Kampala International University in Uganda.

"I welcome additional African troops in the country," she said. "I think that the international community should strengthen AMISOM troops in terms of the number of troops and financial support until Somalia's security forces are built up, in order to fight and quickly destroy the terrorist group al-Shabaab."

But traditional elder Mohamed Hassan Haad said it would be better to strengthen Somali forces instead of bringing in additional AMISOM troops.

"It is not necessary to hand over the entire security of the country to foreign soldiers and to spend money on them," he said. "I believe this money can be used to equip Somali forces."

Haad credited AMISOM's success with the advanced weapons and other equipment that its troops use, but which Somali forces lack.

"If the Somali military are provided with the kind of weaponry AMISOM currently has, there is no doubt that foreign troops would not be needed, since Somali forces understand how to fight al-Shabaab," he said.

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