21 May 2018

Kenya: Somalia's War On Al-Shabaab Not in Vain, Kenya Army Says

Kenya and other troop-contributing countries (TCC) believe they have made tremendous efforts in degrading Al Shabaab and enforcing peace in Somalia 10 years after the incursion.

According to the Special Representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and head of Amisom Franscisco Caetano Jose Madiera, the country is gradually setting up institutions to run her affairs.

"We are moving with difficulties and challenges but with confidence that our mission is on track. We have made strides and we will prevail over Al Shabaab. The Somalia government had been operating from Nairobi but it is now operating from Mogadishu. Sooner or later, our mission will be achieved. Have we achieved our goal, of course not. Are we going there, of course yes," Madeira says.

He says that Villa Somalia is not being shelled daily by Al Shabaab like it was previously and institutions including the Amisom, military and police headquarters and administrative offices have been established and are working.

Mogadishu and other towns have repopulated and are being rebuilt while some of the universities are operating.

He, however, says TCCs are not so rich or so developed and therefore require support from donors to achieve the Amisom mandate.

Amisom officials this month attended a meeting on Somali's security with the European Union in Brussels where it was agreed that there is need for more resources.

Kenyan ambassador to Somalia Lucas Tumbo says more than 35,000 Kenyans are currently working, conducting businesses and living in Somalia following the pacification of the country by Amisom troops.

Diaspora

"Amisom has done well with the support of donors, there has been incremental change. A whole spectrum of things need to be improved. Today more than 80 per cent of the Somali people are returning home. I have the largest diaspora in Africa with 35,000 Kenyans living here. There are 18,000 living in Hargesia, 10,000 in Jubaland and 3,000 living in Mogadishu among others. I will not encourage Kenyans to invest in fear," Maj Gen (Rtd) Tumbo said.

He says despite the growing numbers, Somalia, like any other country, needs investors.

Tumbo says if the enemy hadn't been degraded enough, the country wouldn't have witnessed development.

Following the attack on Al Jazeera hotel where the Kenyan embassy was located, the mission was relocated to Mogadishu International Airport, Marine near SKA as they await the completion of a modern embassy complex currently under construction within two months.

Mogadishu Mayor and Governor of Benadir Abdirahman Omar Osman who is among the few Somalis who returned to Mogadishu from abroad ten years ago says security has greatly improved.

"The country is making progress and we thank Amisom for coming to help Somalia. Somalis are resilient. Recent attacks have united people. More than 2,000 security agents will provide security during Ramadhan and we are determined to succeed," the Mayor says.

"Professionalising our security forces will be a win-win situation for all stakeholders and will ease the burden on African countries and donors," the mayor says.

Amisom Acting Force Commander Tai Gituai says civilian/military cooperation has been of great assistance in the health, and education sector.

Maj Gen Tai Gituai says Amisom has ensured there is peace and regional governments are operational.

He brags that so degraded are Al Shabaab and other insurgent groups that they have resorted to sneaky vehicle borne or human borne Improvised Explosive Devices to engage Amisom troops.

He says that the only tribute soldiers can pay to their fallen colleagues is to stay in Somalia until the mission is accomplished. "For the peace of the continent, I think the sacrifice has been worth it. The only way to pay tribute to the fallen heroes is by staying here. IEDs is a war of cowardice and moving out will also be an act of cowardice," The acting Force commander says. For a very long time, he says, attacks in the country have reduced. Sector II commander Brigadier Joakim Mwamburi says although the situation in Somali remains fluid and unpredictable, Amisom has minimised the treat but Al Shabaab continues to stage attacks using IEDS.

Amisom troops have pacified liberated areas, conducted route clearance in Tabda, Billis Qooqani and Afmadhow among other areas. They have supported the repatriation of 79,840 refugees from Dadaab Refugee Camp into Jubaland since January 3, 2018.

He says the soldiers' presence in Somalia is not in vain because Kenya is now safer but warns that the enemy doesn't have boundaries and thrives in Sector 2 because of its treacherous terrain.

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