The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) officially handed over the Raga Ceel Forward Operating Base (FOB) to the Somali National Army (SNA) on Wednesdays, as part of an ongoing ATMIS drawdown.

ATMIS’s Chief Logistics Officer, Col. Jean Bosco, mentioned that this handover was initially scheduled for last month but was postponed due to Somalia’s request for a technical pause to delay the troops’ withdrawal for three months.

“This handover was supposed to have been done last month, but as you are all aware, the Federal Government of Somalia requested for a technical pause of the drawdown which the AU Peace and Security Council has agreed to,” said ATMIS Chief Logistics Officer Col. Jean Bosco.

Col. Jean Bosco noted that this handover occurred with consensus between ATMIS and SNA and would not affect the request for a technical pause.

“This agreement was reached in consensus with the Somali National Army. We all agreed to proceed with the handover for Raga Ceel due to operational activity needs in Sector 5. The troops taking over this FOB will reinforce other Forward Operating Bases,” he added.

Col. Bosco further stated that the 68th Battalion would be redeployed to other regional administrations to support the Somali National Army in maintaining security and stability in recently liberated areas.

The Raga Ceel FOB was previously under the control of the Burundi National Defence Forces (BNDF), as part of the ATMIS troop-contributing countries.

The commander of the 68th Battalion, Lt. Col. Jean Baptise Nahishakiye, highlighted SNA’s ability to promote and maintain peace and security, expressing confidence that they would protect and defend the safety, security, and human rights of the Somali people.

“This is significant step for both ATMIS and the Somali National Army. As we transfer our responsibility of this FOB to SNA, I am confident that they will protect and defend the safety, security and human rights of Somali people,” said Lt. Col Baptise Nahishakiye.

The SNA commander handed over to the Raga Ceel base, Lt. Idow Ali Mohamed, expressed gratitude to ATMIS troops for their support in the operation against Al-Shabaab and for stabilizing the liberated areas.

“Today I am extremely happy that we are taking control of Raga Ceel from ATMIS forces. We pledge to walk in their footsteps by maintaining peace and security while ensuring that the human rights of the residents are safeguarded,” said Lt. Idow.

The handover event also attended officials from the United Nations Support Office in Somalia’s Transition Planning Cell, led by Santosh Koka, who handed over UN-owned equipment to the Somali Security Forces.

The African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) initiated the second phase of troop drawdown in Somalia in September, with the handover of the Somali National Army to Biyo-Adde Base in Hirshabelle Regional Government.

The Biyo-Adde station in the Middle Shabelle region was a strategic location, marking the defense of Jowhar town in the administrative center of Hirshabelle.

This troop reduction aligns with United Nations Security Council Resolutions: 2628 (2022), 2670 (2022), and 2687 (2023), instructing ATMIS to withdraw two thousand soldiers from Somalia by June 2023 and another three thousand by the end of September 2023.

In the first phase, 2,000 soldiers were withdrawn from Somalia, and six bases were transferred to the Somali National Army. This second phase is the final step in the drawdown process, and will facilitate the complete withdrawal of the remaining ATMIS troops.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *