AU peacekeeping mission takes over command of Kenyan troops in Somalia
MOGADISHU, July 6 (Xinhua) — The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on Friday formally assumes control of the Kenya forces currently fighting militant group of Al-Shabaab, the mission said in a statement received in Mogadishu.
“A total of 4,664 Kenyan personnel are being integrated into AMISOM, bringing the AMISOM force strength to slightly over 17,000 troops out of a total authorized strength of 17,731,” AMISOM said in the statement.
Kenya sent its forces over the border into Somalia to fight Al- Shabaab militants in October last year after the group’s fighters were accused of launching a number of cross border raids inside Kenyan territory.
At a ceremony held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi the Special Representative of the Chairman of the AU Commission for Somalia Boubacar Diarra thanked the Kenyan people and government for responding to the AU’s invitation to join AMISOM.
“We are proud to welcome our brothers and sisters from Kenya in this African effort to help the people of Somalia,” Diara said.
He lauded Kenya for its historic contribution to efforts to secure peace and stability in Somalia noting that the country had borne the brunt of the terrible humanitarian and displacement crisis in Somalia, hosting massive numbers of refugees.
“The integration of Kenyan forces into AMISOM will provide a boost to the effort to secure the Somali peace process and help create the security conditions to enable much-needed humanitarian assistance to be delivered to the needy population,” Diara said.
Kenyan forces will be operating contingents from Uganda, Brundi and Djibouti as part of AMISOM. The mission was deployed in Somalia in 2007 under UN and AU authorization.
Troops from other African countries who pledged to contribute are expected to join the African Union peacekeeping mission deployed in Somalia to prop up the weak Somali government gain control of the war-ravaged horn of Africa nation.
Somali government forces backed by AMISOM troops have regained control of the Somali capital Mogadishu and a number of key towns on its outskirts while Kenyan troops pushed the militant forces out of towns along the common border with Somalia.