, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – The United States has opposed the transition of the African Union Mission in Somalia to a UN Peacekeeping Mission.
Speaking during a UN Security Council Briefing on Somalia on Thursday, US Deputy Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Michele J. Sison said the international community instead needed to come together to see how AMISOM and the Somali security forces can be better facilitated to defeat the Al Shabaab.
“Given the severity of remaining security challenges in Somalia, we do not believe it is appropriate at this time to transition to a UN peacekeeping mission.
AMISOM should continue its principal mission to reduce the threat of Al Shabaab while setting the conditions for a successful security transition. To that end, we encourage President Farmaajo (sic) to work with the Somali regional presidents to reach agreement on a national architecture for the Somali National Army and security forces.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta has previously pushed for AMISOM to transition to a UN peacekeeping mission in order to secure reliable funding for the peace effort in Somalia.
It’s a challenge UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres himself acknowledged on his recent visit to Kenya when he stated: “It’s my belief that there is a responsibility of the international community to fund AMISOM and ideally it should not be with voluntary contributions so I’m not here to criticise the European Union. I’m here to appeal to the international community as a whole to assume that responsibility and in my opinion, I’m giving you a personal opinion, this is something I will be ready to affirm to the Security Council, I believe operations like this should be at least partially funded with assessed contributions.”
Sison acknowledged that AMISOM is grossly underfunded given what it’s up against, “The United States continues to engage with partners to work towards a suitable solution to the issue of AMISOM troop stipends.”
But he made no commitments as to assessed contributions.
“The United States provides substantial assistance, including equipment, to the militaries of many AMISOM Troop Contributing Countries, and we encourage donors to contribute to the Trust Fund for AMISOM and the Somali National Army.”
The focus, he said, should be on how Somalia’s own systems can be strengthened. “We recognise that AMISOM cannot stay forever in Somalia, and in this regard, joint planning between the UN and AU to identify AMISOM’s immediate needs has become increasingly important.
“The upcoming UN-AU joint review of AMISOM will be an opportunity to assess Somalia’s comprehensive security needs and identify a way forward for AMISOM.
“We look forward to the London Conference on Somalia as an opportunity for the Federal Government of Somalia and its international partners to reach agreement on these key issues we’ve discussed here today.”
The 2018 AMISOM draw-down schedule was among the issues on the table when President Kenyatta met with his Somali counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed in State House, Nairobi, on Thursday.
On assuming office, US President Donald Trump administration’s made clear that it would be seeking to rationalize the UN peacekeeping budget.