The Ministry of Defense (MoD) told the House of Peoples’
Representatives (HPR) on Tuesday that the number of Ethiopian peacekeeping troops in Abyie region— an area where Sudan and South Sudan have traded deadly clashs— is to increase.
The Ethiopian peacekeeping mission, which has been deployed in disputed region, may extend its mandate beyond what was originally scheduled due to the expansion of the mission on the ground.
Presenting the Ministry’s performance report, the minister of Defense, Siraj Fegessa, told the House that Ethiopian troops deployed in African Union and United Nations peacekeeping missions are carrying out their missions in a capable manner.
Siraj said that in Abyie—where over 4,200 peacekeeping troops were deployed since 2013—the required political measures have not been achieved but the Ethiopian peacekeeping mission is stabilizing the area. He indicated that the army shows commitment in ensuring stability and harmony among locals.
“Our troops may be required to expand their mission further due to the little progress from their side and the number of troops could exceed more than 5,000,” Siraj told MPs.
While presenting his report concerning the recent clash between African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops and Al Shabaab, the minister did not give details regarding causalities but said that after incurring recurrent damages, the militant group has resorted to carrying out suicide bomb attacks.
According to the minister, Ethiopia’s peacekeeping troops are carrying out their mission in Somalia covering 62 percent of the country’s total size which he said should have been overseen by some 12,000 troops.
Regarding the recent deadly attacks launched by the Murle tribe of South Sudan, Siraj told MPs that the peaceful and composed approach the government took has resulted in a successful outcome.
He said the national defense force has so far managed to rescue 91 of the children, who were abducted, and efforts are under way to bring home the remaining 12 children and the cattle taken by the gunmen.
“So far, we have been able to bring home 91of kidnapped children safely. The government is closely working with the South Sudanese government to bring back the remaining kidnapped children and the looted animals, and identify the culprits and also bring them to justice,” Siraj told the House, adding that incidents of this caliber are common occurrences at borders with neighboring countries where there are pastoral communities.
Highlighting the recent border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Siraj explained that Ethiopian troops took proportional retaliatory response against Asmara. Though he did not give detail, he told the House that the retaliatory response was taken following the Eritrean government’s continued provocations.
However, he indicated that this will also continue in order to safeguard the country’s peace and development.
After his report, Foreign, Defense and Security Affairs Standing Committees commended the army for its peacekeeping mission and effort made to bring back the kidnapped children. But the committee also urged the Ministry to exert effort to bring the remaining kidnapped children back home as soon as possible.
According to Siraj, Ethiopia has deployed more than 12,500 troops in areas affected by conflict and the troops have earned huge appreciation from the international community.
In its five decades of peacekeeping mission, Ethiopia has deployed a total of more than 49,000 troops in seven peacekeeping operations.