Madeira stated that Somalia has experienced economic boom, adding that Somalis are returning home,as the real estate sector booms.
Last week, two bomb blasts were experienced in Somalia. Despite pockets of explosions being perpetrated by Al Shabaab group, peace is gradually returning to the one time war-torn country, especially in the capital city, Mogadishu. Commercial activities, including nightlife, schools and government agencies have resumed.
African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) confirmed that it was no longer business as usual for the Al Shabaab as it has totally reclaimed Mogadishu from the group. Head of the African mission in Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, said serious progress had been made by the African mission comprising Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Sierra Leone, which contributed a total number of 189 policemen to train and retrain Somalia police. He said: “You have come at the time when the focus of the mission is on the transition. Our mandate in Somalia was renewed by the United Nations Security Council until May 2019, in its resolution 2431 of 2018. This same resolution agreed with the position of the African Union that the withdrawal of AMISOM from Somalia should be conducted in gradual and pushed manner, to ensure that the security gains made so far are not lost.
“The drawdown from Somalia began in December 2017, with 1000 troops withdrawn. And it will continue with the withdrawal of another 1000 at the end of February 2019. In line with the transition plan, our current priorities include the capture of the territory that remains under the control of Al Shabaab, specifically the Jubba Valley. This will be through joint operations with the Somali National Army and Somali Police Force.
“We have to clear the major roads linking cities. Even though the major towns are liberated from Al Shabaab control, the terrorists continue to hide in remote areas. We need to clear those routes to allow free movement of people and goods.
“The training and mentorship for the Somali National Army and Somali Police Force continues as a key priority. This has been ongoing, but will be intensified.
“All these are undertaken in addition to the continued support for the Federal Government of Somalia as well as the federal and state governments jointly working towards a safer and more secured Somalia.”
Our greatest achievement
Madeira stated that Somalia has experienced economic boom, adding that Somalis are returning home,
as the real estate sector booms. The country’s economy, he said, is being assessed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is supporting effort towards the implementation of key reforms, including introduction of a new currency. He also said that the war-torn country, with decades of no education, is finding its feet as 23,000 students sat for this year’s secondary school examination.
“In terms of social services, key sectors such as education are showing signs of hope for the first time in decades. In June 2016, an estimated 7,000 took part in the national exams for secondary schools for the first time in 25 years. This year, the number of students more than doubled with 23,000 students sitting for the exams.
“The other key milestone for AMISOM is facilitating an environment that has enabled members of the wider international community to come and engage actively in Somalia. Notably, the UN, the European Union (EU) and several embassies not only have presence in Somalia, but have also been able to engage
in activities across Somalia. This was previously unheard of, with all organisations operating from Nairobi and other regional capitals.
“The police officers from Ghana and Nigeria are playing a key role here as you will witness, in building capacity for the Somali police, mentoring them and supporting the restoration of rule of law in different parts of the country.
“The African Union is grateful to countries that are playing foundation role here in Somalia, such as your country, Nigeria. AMISOM has been in Somalia for 11 years, in what has been a momentous and progressive journey.
“On the political scene, AMISOM has created an increasingly more secure environment, enabling significant progress in the political development of the country. Today, Somalia has a national constitution, an elected parliament and a president, as well as federal states, all with leadership and functional legislative bodies.
“2016 saw elections conducted in all regional states for members of parliament and the process was completed in 2017 without any major incident. This particular election was historic for Somalia, because for the first time in over two decades, a section of the general population, including the youth, and women participated in choosing their leaders.
“In 2012, 135 elders chose the members of parliaments (MPs), but this time, over 14,000 delegates participated in this election, spreading across the regions in Jubbaland, Southwest, Hirshabelle, Galmudug, Puntland, Somaliland, whose elections were held in Mogadishu, and Banadiir. AMISOM’s troops and police officers were deployed in all states except Puntland.
“Political campaigns, and subsequently, elections were all held without any incident. Preparations are already underway for the next elections in 2020. AMISOM has since 2007 captured all the major towns and ports in Somalia, including Mogadishu, Baioda, Kismayo, Barawe and Beletweyne. These were liberated in operations conducted jointly with Somali National Army (SNA), thus enabling hands-on training.
“AMISOM has undertaken extensive capacity building for the Somali national army and police force. In addition to training, joint operations have been conducted, as well as hands-on mentoring for officers.
“To stabilize areas recovered from Al Shabaab, AMISOM undertakes quick impacts project aimed at meeting some of the needs of the communities, including construction of schools and hospitals, repairs and construction of police stations, provision of safe water and repairs of roads, among others.
“On the challenges being faced, he said a major one was the absence of air assets for the troops, noting that Somalia was vast by nature and movement by road with a limited number of troops was very challenging. We also need efficient Somali National Army and Somali Police Force to hold territory to free AMISOM’s troops to undertake operations, especially now as the transition from Somalia begins. AMISOM has actively been involved in training and mentorship of Somali national security forces. These are however, in urgent need of the necessary equipment to take charge of the security of this country.
“They need to be supported to acquire basic facilities, including timely payment of salaries and stipends, provisions and establishment of barracks, among other critical needs. We are also in urgent need of technology to enable us to detect and diffuse Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which are the weapons of choice for the terrorists, and they have been very destructive.”
According to Madeira, the Mission had withdrawn troops last December, in line with resolution 2431 of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, which agreed with the AU that withdrawal of AMISOM from Somalia should be conducted in gradual and pushed manner, to ensure that the security gains made so far were not lost.
Giving statistics on how countries contributed personnel to AMISOM, Madeira said: “We have a total of I89 personnel, comprising 146 males and 43 females. Kenya has 32 personnel, comprising 26 males and six females; Uganda 25, 20 males and five females; Ghana 37, 24 males and 13 females; Zambia 31, 20 male and 11 females; Serra lone 30, 28 males and two females and 34, 28 males and six females.
Police officers speak on roles
A Nigeria police officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “Our role is very simple. The soldiers have done their part. We have civil rule now in the country, so we are training the Somalia police on human rights, stop-and-search, ethics of the job, how to handle criminals and how to take statements from suspects. Our Explosives Ordinance Department (EOD) is doing very well. The EOD has a lot of tasks, as explosives are what Al Shabaab uses as its weapon. We are really doing a lot of work. The good thing is that we are appreciated here for the good job we are doing.”
A policeman from Ghana said: “Although, I am not supposed to speak but I want to say that AMISOM is doing a good job. Before we came on board, everything looked devastated and the people of Somalia looked hopeless. But with our coming, hope has been restored. For instance, their police was nothing to write home about, but today the police are doing great. We accompany them to stop and search and we allow them to do it on their own. We don’t interfere.
“It is after work that we offer advise on what they should do and what they shouldn’t have done. You know a country that has been at war for three decades, so many things have already gone wrong. AMISOM is now like a father and mother to the devastated people. We are settling many things. The work is quite challenging.
“Some time, we experience language problems. We always need interpreters. We are at risk too because bomb may explode any time but we thank God that we have totally taken over the capital city from the rebels. Now life is gradually returning to the country.”
Alrahma Internally Displaced People’s (IDPs) camp in Darkhnelyne, Mogadishu
The thousands of people who stay in the camp thanked AMISOM for its’ intervention. Abu Mateen said: “We are very happy that we are opportune to be here. I am not saying that things are totally okay here but at least, we can express our feelings.
“Before we were rescued from the rebels, we were pretending that we loved them because they used to bribe us with food. When they raid other places, they would bring food for us to eat and they would tell us stories that the government is infidel.
“It is not really that we love the rebels but for the food they give to us, we pretended that we love Harakat Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen terrorists. The same problems are what other people are facing.
“The war has turned us to beggars. I was 21 when the war started. I am going to 52 now. I got married few months before the war started, my wife had three miscarriages but we have one child. He is 25 years old and he grew up to meet the war. I feel for my country and I am praying for total restoration of peace in my country so that we can live in peace.
Ali Ibrahim said: “The pains of war cannot be quantified. I was a businessman but today I am nobody. The war brought tears and sorry to many of us. The country has suffered untold hardships. We now live at the mercy of people. AMISOM has done great. Without AMISOM, we would have still been in captivity. Well, so far so good, we are grateful to the people who have been assisting us. But when I remember my people that I can no longer see again, I weep profusely. They died for the sin they did not commit.