ATMIS begins phase two of troop withdrawal

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) on Sunday kicked off the second phase of troop drawdown from Somalia with the handing over of Bio Cadale Forward Operating Base (FOB) in the HirShabelle State.

Located in the Middle Shabelle region and under the area of responsibility of the ATMIS Burundi National Defence Forces (BNDF), the Bio Cadale base is strategic as it is a buffer zone to Jowhar town, the administrative headquarters of the HirShabelle State.

Present at the handover ceremony were senior officials from ATMIS, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS).

Speaking at the ceremony, the ATMIS FOB Commander for Bio Cadale, Lt. Col. Philippe Butoyi, said the transfer of security responsibility was a testament to Somalia’s leadership in rebuilding the country, protecting the population, and ensuring security and stability.

“We have witnessed developments on the battlefield where Somali Security Forces have demonstrated their increasing capability to securing the country. We have seen the forces attack, seize and hold ground,” said Lt. Col. Butoyi. He added that, “professionally trained and well-equipped Somali Security Force are game-changers in the fight against terrorism in Somalia.”

The Somali National Army (SNA) Commander for Bio Cadale FOB, Capt. Ahmed Ali Takow, signed the handover documents to signify the transfer of security responsibilities which was witnessed by a representative of ATMIS Force Headquarters, Lt. Col. Edouard Nzohabonayo and, the UNSOS Chief of Transition Planning Cell, Patrick Duah, and the Deputy Chief of the Operations Department for the SNA, Maj. Muhudin Ahmed.

The SNA representative, Maj. Muhudin Ahmed, thanked ATMIS Burundian troops for their discipline and dedication in securing HirShabelle State.

“You put your lives on the line and shed blood to defend our land against the enemy. It is because of you that we are now becoming stronger, and today we are taking over the security responsibilities for Bio Cadale,” he said.

During the handover, UNSOS, which provides logistical support to ATMIS, also donated UN-owned equipment including, a generator, water treatment plant, solar panels, boreholes, refrigerators, freezers, and water storage tanks, among others.

“As part of the handover process, UNSOS is gifting United Nations-owned equipment to the SNA contingent taking over from ATMIS. UNSOS has also conducted training for SNA officers to enable them to operate and maintain the equipment,” said the UNSOS Chief of Transition Planning Cell, Patrick Duah.

ATMIS drawdown follows the United Nations Security Council Resolutions: 2628 (2022), 2670 (2022), and 2687 (2023), which mandates ATMIS to drawdown two thousand soldiers by June 2023 and a further three thousand by the end of September 2023.

The successful first phase of the drawdown saw the exit of 2000 military troops and the handover of six FOBs in June 2023.

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