U.S. appeals against withdrawal of AU troops from Somalia

(EBC; November 13, 2017) - The United States has appealed against the downsizing of African Union troops in Somalia fearing escalation of extremist attacks.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) announced last week that following a decision by the AU and UN Security Council to hand over security responsibilities to the Somali Army, a thousand soldiers will be withdrawn from the country by the end of 2017.

The U.S. State Department told East African regional news portal The EastAfrican that the decision calls for concern and they are ready to continue their support for the mission until the time the Somali forces can take over.

"We do not support further drawdown of forces beyond that level at this time, due to ongoing security concerns. The United States supports a conditions-based Amisom drawdown that is tied to the development of capable, professional Somali security forces," said Wohlers Marion, Foreign Service Officer at the State Department.

AMISOM chief Francisco Madeiro had said that the withdrawal will be gradual and 500 police officers will be deployed to train and mentor the Somali Police who will enforce law and order in the country.

He called for timely support for the Somali Army as it fights the Islamist insurgency which has heightened its attacks in the country.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed sought support from neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti to help launch an offensive against al Shabaab.

Uganda offered to send 5,000 extra troops to Somalia despite being the highest troop contributor to the country. Ethiopia and Djibouti had also made promises.

The withdrawal will see five countries reduce their troops by four per cent. Each of them will contribute to the 500 police officers needed to train the Somali Police Force.

AMISOM has 22,000 soldiers in Somalia. It is expected to fully withdraw by 2020.

Source: Africa News