The Head of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine Souef on Thursday briefed the UN Security Council and laid out the mission’s security plans to support Somalia during the transition period ahead of ATMIS exit in December 2024.
The briefing on the situation in Somalia took place during the 9356th meeting of the UN Security Council. The session was chaired by the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Shakhboot Bin Nahyan Al Nahyan.
In his address, Ambassador Souef outlined that ATMIS is providing advisory support to the Somali security forces to safeguard civilians and ensure compliance with the International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law during the ongoing Somali-led military offensives.
Also, ATMIS has supported the Somali security forces in the first phase of the military offensive against Al-Shabaab. The upcoming second phase of the offensive dubbed “Operation Black Lion” will include the regional forces of Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya that border Somalia.
In his brief, Ambassador Souef also noted that the ATMIS military and police components continue to mentor and train the Somali National Army and Somali Police Force personnel. This is in readiness for the transfer of security responsibilities from ATMIS to the Somali security forces.
Ambassador Souef also noted that ATMIS is in the process of implementing phase one of the drawdown. This includes a reduction of troop numbers and handover of six Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) to the Somali security forces.
“I can report to the Council that the drawdown of 2,000 ATMIS troops in accordance with Security Council resolutions 2628 (2022) and 2670 (2022) is now being implemented,” said Ambassador Souef.
“With the completion of phase one, particularly the drawdown next week, ATMIS can create Quick Reaction Forces and Mobile Forces. We also anticipate the deployment of key enablers, such as attack and utility helicopters and long-range Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Counter-IED capabilities. This will enhance ATMIS’s operational capability, enabling the mission to better respond to Somali security forces’ operational requirements on the battlefield,” added Ambassador Souef.
He noted that with only 18 months left to ATMIS’ exit from Somalia in December 2024, there is a need for collective agreement on the role ATMIS should play as it begins to reduce troops.
Ambassador Souef also appealed to the UN Security Council to lift the 31year long arms embargo against Somalia, to enable Somali security forces take over FOBs vacated by ATMIS and hold territory liberated from Al-Shabaab.
The session was also addressed by Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ms Catriona Laing and the UN World Food Programme Executive Director, Cindy McCain.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).