UN chief: Steady funding needed for AU troops in Somalia
NAIROBI, Kenya — The U.N. secretary-general on Wednesday urged more funding for African Union troops in Somalia battling Islamic extremists trying to take over the country.
The African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, needs consistent funding in order to meet its objectives in fighting terrorism and stabilizing the country, Antonio Guterres said.
The AU force in Somalia has about 22,000 troops from Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Burundi, but questions are growing about Somalia’s security as the force plans to withdraw from the country by the end of 2020. Observers say Somalia’s national forces aren’t yet prepared to take over.
The European Union has been the primary donor supporting the force by about $200 million per year, but last year it announced it would cut its funding by 20 percent.
First deployed in 2007, the force has been instrumental in pushing the al-Qaida-linked extremists of al-Shabab from the capital, Mogadishu, and other major cities and towns.
“My belief is that AMISOM is underequipped in relation to the needs,” Guterres said. “AMISOM is doing a remarkable work in very precarious conditions.”
The U.N. chief spoke during a joint press conference with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and later answered questions during a press briefing. Guterres on Tuesday made an emergency visit to Somalia, where he witnessed the impact of a severe drought.