AU mission concludes second phase of troop withdrawal from Somalia

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The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) handed over nine military bases to the Somali government, marking the completion of the second phase of the troop withdrawal from the country.

“The drawdown of 3,000 troops, and handover of the seven military bases which conclude Bio Cadale, Raga Ceel, Parliament, State House, Qorillow, Burahache, and Kismayo Old Airport ENDF mark a watershed moment in the ongoing Somalia security transition process,” ATMIS said in a statement.

Speaking during the official handover ceremony, African Union Commission official, Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, said the drawdown marked a significant milestone in Somalia’s positive trajectory.

According to Bah, Somalia’s security forces have demonstrated incredible courage and resilience in degrading al-Shabaab as part of sustaining security sector development.

“Our collective efforts have enabled us to carry out an orderly and smooth transition of 2,000 troops last year and, this month 3,000 ATMIS troops through the handing over of seven key forward operating bases.

The African Union wants to start the phase 3 drawdown of 4,000 additional ATMIS troops by June 30.

Established in 2007, the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), previously known as the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), gradually drew an estimated 22,000 troops from Uganda, Burundi and neighbouring Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The AU peacekeeping forces aimed to assist Somalia’s federal government in its conflict against al-Shabab.

When peacekeepers were first deployed, the al-Qaeda-linked armed group controlled nearly all territories in south-central Somalia.

Working with Somali security forces, the AU soldiers pushed the fighters into rural areas, which currently, are under al-Shabab control.