AU peacekeepers in Somalia ATMIS
The UN Security Council has unanimously voted to extend the mandate of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) by six months, amid concerns that the al-Shabaab terrorist group still poses a serious threat in the country and the Horn of Africa.
The resolution calls for a phased handover and drawdown of ATMIS troops, while urging the Somali government to accelerate efforts to develop its own security capabilities so it can gradually take over from ATMIS.
The first phase, currently underway, involves a drawdown of 2,000 troops as the Somali security forces assume control of some bases.
The resolution requests updates from Somalia and the AU by August 31 to evaluate the first phase drawdown. Somalia is then expected to provide an update by November 30 on its progress in developing its security capabilities.
The second phase, scheduled to begin by September, will see another 3,000 ATMIS troops withdrawn. Somali officials said they are coordinating closely with the AU on the phased drawdown timeline.
However, officials warned that al-Shabaab continues to carry out deadly attacks. Russia’s representative at the UN Anna M. Evstigneeva cited a rise in bombings in 2023 and cautioned against a “hasty withdrawal” of AU troops.
Al-Shabaab remains a threat, with the number of terrorist attacks using improvised explosive devices in the first quarter of 2023 exceeding the statistics of all recent years, according to her.
Somalia reiterated its call for the partial UN arms embargo to be fully lifted, saying adequate arms and equipment are needed to replace withdrawing AU troops and counter al-Shabaab.
Somalia’s representative Mohamed Rabi Yusuf told the Council, “The timely gradual transfer of security responsibilities from ATMIS to Somali security forces is contingent upon the availability of the requisite operational capabilities.” He called for an urgent lifting of the arms embargo.
ATMIS consists largely of troops from AU nations, including Ethiopia and Uganda. The resolution comes amid heightened concerns over potential renewed al-Shabaab attacks targeting AU forces stationed in Somalia.
So far, AU peacekeepers have played a crucial role in securing parts of Somalia and containing al-Shabaab. But questions remain over Somalia’s readiness to assume full security responsibility and whether the additional six months will be sufficient.