The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) is marking one year since its mandate began with a shot in the arm: Euros 118 million (Approx. UGX 481 billion) from the European Union for its 2023 operations. Annette Weber, EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, announced the new funding on 27 March at the UN Security Council Private Meeting on Somalia in New York. Weber told the UN Security Council; the world’s most powerful body, that 85 million Euros has been allocated for the military component of ATMIS and an additional 33 million Euros for its civilian and police components for 2023 and 2024. In her statement, Weber said the allocations for this year bring the EU’s total support to the UN mandated mission so far to more than 2.5 billion Euros since its inception. “We urge other partners to also contribute to the mission and stand ready to engage in a discussion on how best ATMIS can support current operations,” she said.
By other partners, the EU’s top diplomat for the Horn of Africa meant the UN, US, and Uganda which have been invested in the peace keeping mission that was called AMISOM until 1 April 2022. The transition to ATMIS envisioned a transition to Somali-led security as stipulated in UNSCR 2628 and 2670. Uganda was the first country to send troops to Somalia in 2007 at the start of the mission and maintains an estimated 6 000 troops in the country. Others like Burundi followed and now there are troops from Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, as well. Weber in her address revealed that the EU is also increasing its support to the Somali National Army (SNA) to 25 million Euros. “Timelines are ambitious and linked to significant reform of the Somali security sector. The benchmarks requested in UNSCR 2628 have been formulated jointly by the FGS, UN, AU, and EU in the Quartet,” she stated. As the 27-member bloc pours more resources into Somalia, Weber also had not so good news for the UN Security Council and Somalia’s friends like Uganda. “Now, almost exactly a year into the ATMIS mandate, very few of these benchmarks have been achieved,” she said and added, “We urge implementation by all actors and encourage long-term planning, including with the TCCs (troop contributing countries) and the AU, on a post-ATMIS security architecture.”
The EU just does not provide only cash to ATMIS but has also been involved in training of Somali forces. In 2010, the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) Somalia was created to train Somali forces and for the first four years it was conducted at Bihanga, Ibanda in western Uganda before it moved to Somalia. EUTM Somalia had trained 7 000 personnel by August 2020 according to some assessments. Roughly half of these formed infantry units, with the rest being a mix of specialist units, non-commissioned officers (NCOs), officers and trainers. In 2021, there was provision of military equipment by EUTM for Somali forces with the European Peace Facility. The European Peace Facility is an off-budget funding mechanism for EU actions with military and defence implications under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) framework.
Uganda’s staying power
Uganda has been vital to the peace and stability of Somalia as seen through the visit to Uganda by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on 18 March for a pass out ceremony of over 3 000 trainees of the SNA at the Special Mission Training Centre in Butiaba, Buliisa district.