African Union Troop Rotation Delayed in Somalia Due to Flooding

Afaf Fahchouch
Afaf Fahchouch
3 Min Read
African Union Troop Rotation Delayed in Somalia Due to Flooding

The rotation of the African Union force in Somalia, part of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis), has faced a delay of at least one month due to severe floods. Troops, meant to leave their military bases over four weeks ago, remained stranded due to El NiƱo-induced rains that submerged roads, airstrips, and disrupted major supply routes in the Horn of Africa country.

The Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) to Atmis, expecting the rotation by the end of December 2023, experienced logistical challenges as the floods persisted. The delays extended the stay of troops in Somalia by an additional month, hindering the deployment of new units to the mission.

Gifty Bingley, Atmis spokesperson, cited the floods as the primary cause for the delay in meeting the December 31, 2023 timeline. Despite challenges, Phase Two of the drawdown, involving the handover of seven Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), was completed successfully.

The floods not only impacted the operational capabilities of peacekeepers but also triggered a humanitarian crisis affecting the local population. Michael Dorn, UNSOS deputy chief of service delivery, noted that Sectors 3, 4, and 5 of Atmis, controlled by Ethiopian, Djiboutian, and Burundi contingents respectively, were severely affected, displacing over 334,800 people.

The floods complicated military operations against Al Shabaab, as forces had to support humanitarian efforts in various regions of Somalia. The inundation made it challenging to deliver crucial supplies to Atmis forces, leading to acute shortages.

Despite the challenges, the drawdown of Atmis continues, limiting field missions and hampering the ongoing flood response. Authorities stated that Atmis would still control a total of 56 FOBs, with Somali forces expected to take over a significant number when 4,000 troops leave in the third phase of drawdown by June 2024.

The troop rotation delay coincided with the departure of 3,000 troops from Somalia, further complicating the withdrawal process. Lt-Gen Sam Okiding, the Force Commander, urged incoming forces to be vigilant and alert due to the ongoing troop reduction.

Challenges also emerged in repatriating Contingent Owned Equipment (COE), including vehicles, office supplies, and military vehicles, as a contractor faced difficulties. Seven FOBs, including Parliament, State House, Bio Cadale, Raga Ceel, Qorillow, Burahache, and Kismayo Old Airport, were handed over to Somali security forces, while Sarille and Old Airport KDF military bases were closed. The situation underscores the complex task of concluding the UN-mandated mission in Somalia in 2024.


Share this Article
Leave a comment