ATMIS officially hands over Forward Operating Bases to the FGS, successfully completing the First Phase of its Drawdown
Mogadishu -The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) with the support of the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) on Thursday formally handed over six Forward Operating Bases (FOBS) to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), capping the first phase of the troop drawdown.
The event was graced by key officials among them Somalia’s Minister for Defence as Guest of Honor, Hon. Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur and other senior government officials. Also present were the Director of African Union Conflict Management Department, Alhadji Dr. Sarjoh Bah; Head of ATMIS, Amb. Mohamed El-Amine Souef; UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing; Head of UNSOS, Assistant Secretary-General (ASG), Aisa Kirabo Kacyira; FGS officials, Ambassadors of Troop Contributing Countries (TCC), and other senior dignitaries.
“Today’s ceremony commemorates the successful handover of FOBs from ATMIS to the competent authorities in Somalia. I salute the entire fraternity and leadership of ATMIS for the great strides and sacrifices they have made in Somalia, and also commend the great effort and preparedness of the Government of Somalia and the Somali Security Forces for achieving this important milestone.’ noted Kacyira in an interview.
The hand over was formalized by the signing of two documents; the land release agreement and certificate of gifted items.
Ms Kacyira, along with Somalia's Minister of Defence, Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, led the signing of the certificate of gifted items, while the land release agreement was signed by Ambassador Souef and the Advisor of Somalia’s Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Col. Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed.
UNSOS, gifted the FGS with, United Nations Owned Equipment (UNOE) associated with ‘camp utilities and life support’ such as generators, solar panels and water purification plants to sustain the operational capacity of FOBs that are being handed over.
Other items handed over by UNSOS to FGS included; utilities such as boreholes, water treatment and storage equipment, generators, solar panels associated with electrical distribution equipment, refrigerators and freezers.
The exchange of legal documents followed the conclusion of the first phase of the drawdown of 2,000 troops and handover of the Xaaji Cali (Haji Ali), Mirtiquo, Cadale, Albao, Gherille and Aljazeera 1 FOBs to Somali Security Forces (SSF), last month.
The handover is in line with UN Security Council Resolutions 2628 (2022) and 2670 (2022), the joint Concept of Operations (CONOPs) and the Somali Transition Plan (STP), developed by the FGS, ATMIS, the UN and international partners to guide the transition process.
Speaking at the event, Somalia’s Minister for Defence, Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, said the handover comes at a time when significant progress has been made in the war against al-Shabaab and in strengthening the Somali Security Forces in the past one year.
“Many of our partners took a huge risk when they deployed to Somalia over a decade ago. Those risks yielded a positive result. Somalia’s progress is clear,” said Minister Abdulkadir, who also called for more support from development partners to enable Somalia “reach the desired end state.”
Alhadji Sarjoh Bah, the African Union's Director for Conflict Management, called the smooth withdrawal of 2,000 ATMIS troops "historic" and hailed the UN, ATMIS, FGS, and other development partners for their work.
“This is a moment of pride for all of us and we should reflect for a moment on the progress that has been made, particularly by the Somali Security Forces (SSF) who are gradually assuming full security responsibilities,” Bah said.
UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, paid tribute to the FGS, SSF and ATMIS for the successful conclusion of the first phase and called for a thorough joint assessment ahead of the second phase of the drawdown.
“We need to do a very honest assessment of the successes and challenges so that we can plan this next phase,” the SRSG noted.
She added, “We want to see al-Shabaab attacks going down and we want to see communities feeling secure, feeling that they can get back to their livelihoods.”
Ambassador Souef commended UNSOS for its continued support to ATMIS and the Somali Security Forces.
“As part of efforts to support SSF and ensure continuity and sustainability of the FOBs handed over, UNSOS, the logistical support partner offered some equipment stationed at the FOBs. We are indeed grateful,” hailed Amb. Souef.
ASG Kaycira assured the FGS and the people of Somalia of UNSOS continued support for the Somali Transition Plan and the Somali-led transition process.
“UNSOS has trained over 30 FGS/Somali National Army personnel in the maintenance of assets, including guidance on environmental issues, in line with our responsibility to leave a positive environmental footprint in Somalia,” noted ASG Kacyira.
Earlier, UNSOS Head of Transition Planning Cell Patrick Duah pointed out that the UN logistics arm in Somalia has played a crucial role in providing support to the FGS.
“UNSOS has already been providing support in 10 mandated areas to the SSF. This support has been in rations, fuel, water, tentage, transportation (not including vehicles), In-theatre casualty and medical evacuation, field defense stores, communication for SNA-ATMIS inter-operability, training, equipment and mentoring ‘IED threat mitigation) and HRDDP through ATMIS,” he said.
UNSOS played a vital role in the joint pre-inspection reconnaissance mission, between FGS and ATMIS, to determine the support requirements for the handover of FOBs as part of the ATMIS drawdown operations during phase one of the transition.