AU’s Somalia mission faces danger of donor fatigue

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AU soldiers patrol a street in Afgoye town, outside Somali capital

In recent years, donor fatigue and failure by the 22000-strong force to deliver on its mandate remained key challenges for African Union heads on the backdrop of attacks by militants who continue to unleash deadly attacks across large parts of the horn of Africa nation.

By Judy Maina, judy.maina@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI –  As the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia is to celebrate its tenth anniversary since it was deployed in Somalia, there are fears among AU officials that fatigue will begin to influence donors opinions in maintaining funding the multinational forces battling Islamic militants in the horn of Africa nation.

In recent years, donor fatigue and failure by the 22000-strong force to deliver on its mandate remained key challenges for African Union heads on the backdrop of attacks by militants who continue to unleash deadly attacks across large parts of the horn of Africa nation.

Deployed in 2007 in the Somali capital, African Union forces have since made a steady progress by ousting militants from key areas including the seaside capital of Mogadishu and other key strongholds including the port city of Kismayo, but have since failed to make major gains.

“This is where we are going to plan in detail what each of our units and clusters is going to do or intends to do in the years to come,” said Francisco Madeira, the Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson for Somalia at a meeting by AU officials in Nairobi.

Meanwhile, AU member states that repeatedly discussed about plans to fund the mission on their own have since failed to move forward, with Mr. Madeira said that the body is finding difficult to fund the mission, owing to what he called donor fatigue.

He urged donor states to consider themselvs as partners helping in stabilizing the long-chaotic horn of Africa nation which is recovering from decades of war.

“Not all project plans could be implemented, either because we dreamt so much and thought we could do everything and thus lost so much sight or we trusted our partners so much that we thought they would fund everything,” he said at during a meeting reviewing the mission’s activities and draw up a budget that will guide the operations of the mission in 2017 by senior AMISOM officials.

However, several UN and western officials have subsequently raised concerns over  the performance of the force in view of the rise of the once weakened al-Shabab militants, amid rumors that its pushing a new initiative to replace the 22000 African Union force with UN’s blue helmet peacekeepers in the hope of improving the situation on the ground.

Somalia’s army remain fractured and unprepared to take over the country’s security from AMISOM which would withdraw from Somalia by 2020.

At one point, the United Nations Security Council had expressed its intention of establishing a UN peacekeeping mission in Mogadishu In 2009; however UN officials have since backed down the plan as result of potential security threats the mission may face once it’s deployed in Mogadishu.

The development comes amid strong speculations that western donors are pushing for a rapid power transfer by AMISOM force to UN peacekeepers that are yet to be deployed in Somalia.

Several factors have been attributed to the decline of AMISOM’s performance, including lack of air power, coordination among contingents and with Somali army in addition to corruption by senior military officers, actions that went unnoticed or perhaps ignored by AU officials.

According to experts, every battalion was answering to its own commanders, rather than to the force’s overall command, making it difficult for AU to instill trust among the multinational forces.

Despite internal divisions that threatens the mission—African Union forces bogged down by regular attacks by militants are currently defending their bases in areas taken from militants some years back.

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