The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has formally handed over six Forward Operating Bases (FOBS) to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). The six FOBs are: Xaaji Cali, Mirtiquo, Cadale, Albao, Gherille, and Al Jazeera 1.
At an official handover event in Mogadishu, on Thursday, the SRCC and Head of ATMIS, Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine Souef, and the Advisor to Somalia’s Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Col. Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed, signed the handover documents transferring the FOBs to the FGS.
The Head of the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), Assistant Secretary-General Aisa Kirabo Kacyira and Somalia’s Minister of Defence, Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, signed over gifted items from UNSOS to the FGS. The items include generators, water treatment plants and solar panels among others located at the FOBs.
Speaking at the handover event, the Director, Conflict Management Division of the African Union Department of Political Affairs, Peace, and Security – Dr. Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, who was on a short visit to Somalia, described the successful completion of the handover of the six FOBs and the drawdown of 2,000 ATMIS troops as historic.
Dr. Bah thanked all the stakeholders, including the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) and ATMIS, for the collaboration and for ensuring that the deadline was met.
“This is a moment of pride for all of us and we should reflect for a moment on the progress that has been made, particularly by the Somali Security Forces (SSF) who are gradually assuming full security responsibilities,” he added.
Dr. Bah reiterated the AU’s commitment to ensuring an efficient and effective transition process to Somali Security Forces (SSF).
“I want to reiterate the AU’s commitment to ensuring an efficient and effective transition process, one that doesn’t compromise the security of the people of Somalia and the gains we have made over the past 16 years,” he noted.
Somalia’s Minister of Defence, Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, noted that the handover comes at a time when remarkable gains have been achieved in the fight against Al-Shabaab over the past year.
“Many of our partners took a huge risk when they deployed to Somalia over a decade ago. The risk has yielded positive results and Somalia’s progress is clear. Somali security forces have improved on capacity, and we need more support from development partners to reach the desired end state,” said the Minister.
“ATMIS remains essential to Somalia’s progress, and the presence of ATMIS is critical at this juncture as Somalia moves into the next chapter of security ownership across the country,” the Minister added.
He reminded all that following the Kampala Summit earlier in the year, there has been tangible progress on the implementation of the first phase of the drawdown. He reiterated the commitment of the FGS to implementing the new UN Security Council Resolution 2687 (2023) which calls for Somali-led operations against Al Shabab, including securing vital Main Supply Routes (MSR).
The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, paid tribute to the FGS, SSF and ATMIS, for the successful conclusion of the first phase of the drawdown and called for a thorough joint assessment ahead of the second phase of the drawdown.
“We need to do a very honest assessment of the successes and the challenges of phase one so we can plan the next phase,” Laing said.
Present at the event were the Ambassadors of Troop Contributing Countries, international partners, and officials from the Somali National Army (SNA) and ATMIS.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).