8 May 2019

Somalia: Drop in Troops Budget Signals Withdrawal

The European Union's compensation budget for Kenyan troops fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia is set to start falling in the financial year beginning July, signalling the onset of gradual withdrawal from the war-torn nation.

Treasury estimates show that Kenya will in the next financial year be demanding the least reimbursement from the EU compared to the past five years, with the amount falling further in subsequent years.

It expects refunds of Sh5 billion in the year starting July, 41.17 per cent lower than the Sh8.5 billion in the current year ending in June.

The EU receipts are projected to fall further to Sh3.5 billion in the year starting July 2020, then stabilise at about Sh3 billion thereafter.

Kenya is demanding more compensation this year from the EU than the Sh6.1 billion it has budgeted for in the past four years.

The Treasury had only received Sh10.20 million in the first seven months through February from the EU for refunds usually disbursed quarterly.

International community

This was, however, topped up to Sh3.757 billion in March, which is 44.2 per cent of the Sh8.5 billion the Treasury has budgeted this financial year.

About 4,000 Kenyan soldiers are part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), presently headed by Ethiopia's Lt Gen Tigabu Yilma Wondimhunegn.

The international community pays $1,028 (Sh103,728) for each soldier per month. Their respective governments then deduct about $200 (Sh20,180) for administrative costs, meaning the soldiers take home about $800 (Sh80,722).

The soldiers receive the funds through the Kenyan government.

Kenya formally sent 4,660 soldiers to Somalia in October 2011 after incessant attacks and kidnapping of civilians by Al-Shabaab militants within its territory.

A year later, the UN Security Council gave Kenya the green light to join Amisom, a decision that meant the Treasury would not bear the full costs of the incursion.

Amisom's soldiers are drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya.

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