AMISOM Receives $200m from EU to Pay Its Soldiers
The European Union (EU) is set to contribute more than Sh20 billion (around $200m) to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The money will be used to pay the wages of soldiers and other personnel working for the UN-backed peacekeeping mission in conflict-ridden Somalia. The organisation is struggling to source the required annual funds, prompting African Union (AU) member states to seek assistance.
“The union welcomes this encouraging development, which is the result of continuous and fruitful consultations between AU and EU on the enhancement of the logistical and financial support to the mission,” AMISOM said in an official statement, following news of the EU funds.
“The EU fund will be used to cover allowances for Amisom troops and police, international and local civilian staff salaries, as well as operational costs of the mission.”
It costs around Sh50 billion each year to fund AMISOM’s current operations, which are already considered insufficient by critics. While the Sh20 billion offered by the EU will go towards paying for existing arrears and expenses that date back as far as January.
However, the new funds won’t be enough to pay for any future expenses and the mission’s future remains in doubt.
Difficult times in Somalia
The African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, highlighted how important the new funds will be to troops serving in AMISOM’s peacekeeping mission.
“We thank the EU for its continued support to Amisom. This latest contract is a big morale booster for the troops,” he posted on Twitter after signing the deal.
It comes at an important time too, as terrorist group Al-Shabaab intensifies its fight against the government ahead of the election build-up next week. Meaning AMISOM’s troops need to be in the right mindset and worrying about when they might get paid next is a distraction the mission could certainly do without.
The mission has been in financial crisis since the EU announced it would cut its annual allocation to AMISOM by 20%. Both the European and African unions turned to the UN to request it fills the budget gap, but the security council is yet to agree to any budget adjustment. Meanwhile, African Union members say it should not be left up to them to source the necessary funds, given the importance of AMISOM and security in Somalia to the international community.