The implications of Brexit for Somalia and AMISOM mission
For six months, the AMISOM troops have not been paid as the effects of the funding cuts by the European Union bite, which last February had decided a general reduction of 20% on $ 200 million of annual appropriations, justifying the measure with a constrained budget and new security needs.
- Saturday, 02 July 2016
Europe, which provides the resources necessary for the payment of allowances to the troops and other related expenses, motivating the delay in paying to the soldiers with the failure to approve the financial statements, which regulates economic interventions in mission.
On Monday, however, the BBC reported that the blockade of the salaries to the military is due to the delay in the arrival of the last two tranches of funding. While Gary Quince, Head of the European Delegation to the African Union (AU), explained that, the suspension of payments to the 22,000-strong African Union force in Somalia was just due to lack of funds.
The European High Representative at the Addis Ababa agency explained that decision-making takes long to get funds for the mission, created in January 2007 by the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), with an initial mandate six months to replace the Ethiopian contingent.
The cuts decided by Brussels came into effect from June and the beginning of the year was spent $634 million (€570 million) to cover the costs of the mission related to the period June - November 2015, including the military benefits and police involved in the mission, in addition to the salaries of civilian personnel.
The EU is the single largest donor in Somalia and provides $1,028 (€925) per month for each AMISOM soldier, from which respective governments then deduct around $200 for administrative costs meaning the soldiers are supposed to take home about $800.
A sum far higher than the meager salary that the soldiers receive from their governments, but now reduced by 20% of the budget downsizing operated from Brussels, to which every soldier has lost about $160 basic allowance.
According to the EU Ambassador to Somalia Michele Cervone d’Urso, the delays in payment and substantial reductions of salaries are having a negative impact on the motivation of the troops, at a time when al-Shabaab has just got back attacking civilians and military targets.
The head of AMISOM, Ambassador Francisco Caetano José Madeira of Mozambique, believes that instead of cutting back on funding, the mission would require other combat helicopters and weapons to finally defeat the al-Shabaab terrorists and liberate the Somali territory.
In the last 12 months, the Islamists have hit four AMISOM bases: the Lego compound, a hundred kilometers north-west of Mogadishu, where 26 June 2015 more than thirty Burundian soldiers lost their lives; Janale base in the Lower Shabelle region, about 50 miles from Mogadishu, where last September 1st fifty green helmets were killed Ugandans.
In January 2016, was attacked the base of El Ade, near the city of Ceel Cado, in the south-west of Somalia, about 340 miles from Mogadishu, where killed at least one hundred Kenyans soldiers (the actual number of those killed in 'attack was never confirmed by the Kenyan authorities).
The last military attack took place at the Halgan base, located 186 miles north of Mogadishu and where on 9 June died at least 43 Ethiopian soldiers. Unlike the devastating attack on the Kenyan contingent in El Ade, air support and Ethiopian reinforcements, arrived quickly on the spot inflicting heavy casualties on the al-Shabaab militants.
A situation of extreme alert, in which Uganda, whose provides the biggest contingent of soldiers to the AU force, last week said the decision to withdraw its troops by December 2017, without giving any official reason.
However, perhaps the most crippling blow to the AMISOM comes the outcome of the referendum with which last week Britain has decided to leave the European Union. London has long been the driving force of international strategy exerting a priority on setting up the European policy for Somalia, in particular by ensuring that EU funds would ensure the coverage of most of the African Union mission costs.
Until February, ninety percent of AMISOM budget was covered under the African Peace Facility (AFP), but even before that Britain would lose its dominion on European funding mechanism by voting in favor of Brexit, were climbing the pressure to reallocate resources.
In particular, before Britain’s divorce from the EU, France was pushing to deflect AFP fund on other peace support operations in Africa guided by Brussels, first of all EUCAP and EUTM missions in Mali and Niger.
In conclusion, the inevitable and imminent failure of London’s financial contribution to AFP funds and, even more importantly, the loss of the British political leadership on Somalia within the EU poses a major unknown factor on the AMISOM operations and the future of the European strategy in the Horn-of-Africa-country.