ADDIS ABABA, Jan 17 – The United Nations has pledged logisitical support to help maintain the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM), an AU official said.,
"Very soon, we will receive a global logistical support package from the UN for AMISOM," AU peace and security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra told reporters after meeting UN experts here.
"This package is very important because it can include heavy equipment as well as the supply of fuel, food and other equipment for our forces in Somalia," he said.
Lamamra did not specify the cost of the UN’s support for AMISOM.
Ethiopian forces that had been occupying Somalia since late 2006 in a bid to prop up a weak transitional government and flush out hardline Islamists completed their withdrawal from Mogadishu earlier this week.
Their pullout had been one of the main demands of opposition groups engaged in a UN-sponsored peace process but has also sparked fears of a security vacuum that could lead to a deadly power struggle and renewed civil fighting.
The African Union had also threatened to terminate its peacekeeping mission if it didn’t receive outside support.
According to an agreement reached late last year in Djibouti, AMISOM and joint units including government and opposition forces are to take over the Ethiopian army’s security duties until the UN’s peacekeeping force is deployed.
On Friday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution stating its intent to send a peacekeeping mission to Somalia but delaying its decision on the deployment until June.
UN experts who attended the meeting in Addis Ababa said the latest package should allow AMISOM to beef up its contingent and upgrade its equipment as it waits for the UN to take over.
The AU mission comprises Ugandan and Burundian contingents totalling around 3,400 men in Mogadishu but has been unable to contain the violence that has raged since it was deployed in March 2009.
The continental body had initially pledged 8,000 troops.