Mogadishu – Members of Parliament from Uganda have committed to support initiatives that will boost the welfare and operational capabilities of the Uganda troops deployed in Somalia under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).
The legislators, who sit on the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs were on a five-day visit to Somalia to assess the performance of Uganda troops. They were led by the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, Rosemary Nyakikorongo and accompanied by the State Minister for Defence in charge of Veterans Affairs, Huda Abason Oleru.
“We are here to assess the performance of our UPDF soldiers. To understand the contributions, challenges, and best the committee can support them”, said Nyakikorongo.
While in Somalia, the legislators held consultations with the ATMIS Senior Leadership Team led by the SRCC for Somalia and Head of ATMIS, Ambassador Mohammed El-Amine Souef. They visited some Forward Operating Bases located within the UPDF area of responsibility and met with the Somali Federal Minister of Defence and the Commander of the Somali National Army. They also toured Mogadishu.
Nyakikongoro said the Parliamentary committee would ensure adequate funding for Ugandan troops in Somalia to facilitate their operations against the Al-Shabaab.
“We have seen why it is necessary for Uganda to support Somalia as a sister country and will ensure the welfare of our soldiers is considered during the budget making process when we go back home,” she emphasized. She added that the Uganda Parliament will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to engage the African Union on the timely release of funds for AU troops in Somalia.
The State Minister for Defence in charge of Veterans Affairs, Huda Abason Oleru, praised the UPDF for their contributions to continental peace and security.
“We are proud that you are doing a good job for Uganda, the continent of Africa and beyond. We thank you very much for your selfless service to the people of Somalia,” said Minister Abason Oleru.
In addition to combat operations to degrade the Al Shabaab, Ugandan troops also undertake quick impact projects and civil-military cooperation initiatives such as providing health services to local communities as part of the stabilisation efforts.
Uganda was the first country to deploy troops under the African Union peace support operations in Somalia in 2007. Other troop contributing include Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya.