The United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), formerly known as the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA), was established in 2009 by Security Council Resolution 1863, to provide logistics support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The current mandate of UNSOS is provided in the UN Security Council Resolution 2568 of 12 March 2021.
UNSOA operations represented a significant departure for the UN which, until then, typically supported traditional peacekeeping in relatively stable environments. It is the first time the UN decided to support a non-UN mission - AMISOM. Over the years, the Security Council gradually increased UNSOA’s support package to keep pace with AMISOM combat operations as well as the increasing number of AMISOM personnel in Somalia, from the original authorized troop strength of 8,000 in 2009 to a high of 22,126 uniformed personnel and 70 civilian personnel in 2013. However, in 2017, the Security Council commenced a gradual drawdown of AMISOM uniformed personnel to facilitate transition and handover of security responsibilities to the Somalia Security Forces.
To increase the capacity of the Somalia Security Forces, the Security Council had, in 2013, also mandated limited non-lethal support to Somali National Army personnel engaged in joint operations with AMISOM. In the same year, the Security Council also instructed UNSOA to provide administrative and logistical support to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). To reflect the mission’s increased number of clients in Somalia, the Security Council renamed UNSOA to the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) in 2015, and elevated the head of UNSOS to the level of Assistant Secretary-General (ASG).
While the majority of UNSOS personnel are located across the six Sector Headquarters in Somalia, UNSOS relies on a back office in Nairobi and a logistics base in Mombasa, Kenya.
(a) Support to AMISOM
UNSOS is currently mandated to provide logistics support to a maximum of 19,626 AMISOM uniformed and 70 civilian personnel. Support to AMISOM is through a combination of assessed budget and voluntary contributions from member states to the AMISOM Trust Fund. The logistics support package consists largely of the provision of life support including rations, water, fuel as well as medical infrastructure and supplies, casualty evacuations, transportation (land, sea, and air), engineering support (accommodation, ablutions, defense stores, water wells, waste management), counter IED support, repair and maintenance of equipment, HF/VHF communications, IT support, strategic communications, and training. All support to AMISOM must be in compliance with the United Nation’s Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP).
(b) Support to the Somalia Security Forces (SSF)
UNSOS was initially mandated in 2013 to provide logistics support to a maximum of 10,900 Somalia Nations Army (SNA) in joint operations with AMISOM. However, this support was expanded by the Security Council in 2020 to a maximum of 13,900 SSF, including an appropriate share of the state and federal police, who are formally integrated into the SSF in line with the National Security Architecture and who are actively participating in joint or coordinated operations with AMISOM that directly implement the Transition Plan. Currently, UNSOS supports 12,900 SNA and 1,000 Somalia National Police forces.
UNSOS support to SSF is solely funded by voluntary contributions from member states to the UNSOS-managed Trust Fund, and is subject to compliance with HRDDP. The areas of support are strictly limited to food, water, fuel, tentage, transportation, in-theatre medical evacuation, defence stores and appropriate VHF/UHF/HF communication equipment to enable communication with AMISOM, and training, equipment and mentorship to counter the threat of improvised explosive devises (IED).
(c) Support to UNSOM
UNSOS is mandated to provide administrative and logistical support to the political mission, UNSOM, to enable it to strengthen its presence in all regions of Somalia. UNSOS support includes the provision of living/office accommodation, food, water, transportation, and medical facilities. UNSOS also provides finance and human resources support to UNSOM.
(d) Other areas of support
UNSOS mandate is strictly limited to the above entities in the areas authorised by the Security Council. UNSOS is not authorized to pay salaries or troop stipends to both AMISOM and SSF personnel. However, in support of the UNSOM mandate, UNSOS does indirectly facilitate reconciliation efforts and state building initiatives by providing services such as conference facilities, transportation of Somali Government officials, and physical security enhancements in support of elections.
As a strategic enabler supporting the international community in Somalia, UNSOS provides logistics support to the UN Country Team and diplomatic missions in Somalia on a cost-reimbursable basis.