ATMIS begins third phase of troop drawdown

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ATMIS begins third phase of troop drawdown
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In a symbolic milestone for Somalia’s security transition, the African Union Transition Mission (ATMIS), has handed over the Bariire Forward Operating Base (FOB) to the Somali National Army (SNA), marking the third phase of troop’s drawdown.

Located in the Lower Shabelle region under ATMIS Uganda Peoples Defence Forces since 2019, the Bariire FOB holds strategic importance as it serves as a buffer zone about 60 km west of the capital, Mogadishu.

The agriculturally rich town of Barrile was liberated by AU and SNA troops.

Prior to that,it was one of the five strategic bridge towns along the Shabelle River, serving as a key transit point for Al-Shabab extremists.

ATMIS Uganda Contingent Commander, Brig Gen  Anthony Lukwago Mbuusi, handed over the FOB to the SNA representative, Maj. Muhudin Ahmed, during a ceremony attended by senior officials from ATMIS and SNA.

“This transfer (of the Bariire FOB) is not just a transfer of physical assets, but it symbolizes the progress we have made together in our shared mission,” said Brig Gen Mbuusi.

“Together, we will continue to work towards a brighter future for Somalia, one built on cooperation, mutual respect and the common goal of finding lasting peace,” he added.

Also present at the ceremony were Colonel Suleiman Ibrahim, representing the ATMIS Deputy Force Commander in Charge of Support and Logistics, the ATMIS FOB

Commander, Maj. Bruhan Nsamba, and the incoming SNA FOB Commander, Capt.Abdisalam Jama. Colonel Ibrahim commended the troops for their commitment and reiterated the AU Mission’s continued support to SNA during the transition period.

“The handover of this FOB signifies the willingness and capacity of the SNA to take over the security of Somalia while ATMIS takes the back seat in a supporting role,” noted Col. Suleiman.

He expressed confidence that the SNA would continue to secure Barirre town and its inhabitants from Al-Shabaab attacks and other illegal armed groups.

In his remarks, the SNA representative, Maj. Muhudin, commended ATMIS Uganda troops for their commitment to the transition and their sacrifice in ensuring peace returns to Somalia.

“You came to us as brothers and sacrificed your lives for us. Some of you died in the line of duty for Somalia to be peaceful, we are grateful because not everybody can do that,” said Maj. Muhudin, who is also the Deputy Chief of SNA’s Operations Department.

The United Nations Support Office for Somalia (UNSOS) donated equipment, including, a generator, water treatment plant, solar panels, boreholes, refrigerators, freezers, and water storage tanks, to support the transition.

The third phase of the ATMIS drawdown is in line with United Nations Security Council Resolutions: 2628 (2022), 2670 (2022), and 2710 (2023), which mandate ATMIS to withdraw 4000 troops by the end of June 2024.

This phase follows the successful conclusion of the first and second phases of the drawdown last year, which reduced the number of AU troops by 5000 and handed over 17 FOBs.

Several security experts and troop contributing countries have on several occasions warned of a delicate situation in Somalia that if not handled well, the troop drawdown might soil all the gains.

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