Africa

Somalia Peacekeeping 'Moving In The Right Direction', Defence Attaché Says

International assistance has been provided to Somalia since 2007 to defend civilians against extremist group al-Shabaab.

Peacekeeping Operations in Somalia are moving in the right direction, the UK Defence Attaché in Mogadishu has said.

More than 22,000 soldiers and police from six African countries are deployed in the nation under the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

International assistance has been provided to the Somalian government since 2007 in order to defend civilians against the extremist group al-Shabaab.

Attacks on civilians, sexual assaults and suicide bombings are common, with al-Shabaab controlling several parts of the country.

On 1 August, the Mayor of Mogadishu died following injuries sustained in a suicide attack.

The UK Defence Attaché, Lieutenant Colonel Huan Davies, said al-Shabaab remains a dangerous organisation, but momentum in securing the Lower Shabelle region is building:

"There is a huge stabilisation effort going in behind the operations that has been coordinated across government and across a lot of international partners and that, while not perfect, is going in the right direction."

The next battlegroup to deploy to the Lower Shabelle region will come from the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF).

Battlegroup 29 are set to complete pre-deployment training this week. Their three-month programme was led by UK personnel working under the British Peace and Support Team.

Ugandan forces are preparing to combat the Al-Shabaab presence in Somalia (Picture: Royal Navy).

UPDF Task Force 3 Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Israelo Kaheeru, said Ugandan troops have been well prepared for the task ahead:

"Al-Shabaab will attack our forward operating bases. Al-Shabaab will lay IEDs around the main supply routes to fail our supply convoys. Al-Shabaab will ambush us.

"Even if we were to deploy this morning, I am confident that the training we have had here is quite enough for us to be able to do our best in Somalia."

The training has taken place at Singo Camp, 40 miles north of Uganda’s capital Kampala. UK personnel are designing training serials that best replicate the potential scenarios the Battlegroup could face.

Members of the Royal Navy working with Ugandan soldiers on Lake Victoria, East Africa (Picture: Royal Navy).

Tasks could range from handling unexploded IEDs to dealing with victims of sexual violence, and while they have been preparing to defend against direct attacks from al-Shabaab fighters, Ugandan Battle Group (UGABAG) 29 Officer Commanding Captain William Moore says the objective of the AMISOM mission is clear:

"It is about working with the local civilian populations and Somali security partners in order to empower the Somali government, reassure the population and give peace and stability to the country."

UPDF Battlegroup 29 will begin their 12-month deployment in December.