Nairobi(Mogadishu24)-Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Defence, Aden Barre Duale, announced on Wednesday that the Kenya Defence Forces will be completely withdrawn from Somalia by December 2024.

The minister appeared before the plenary session of the senate, where he discussed the achievements made by the Kenya Defence Forces and the setbacks faced in their mandate for regional peace and security.

“The Kenya Defence Forces serve under ATMIS, so this mandate is guided by two arms: the African Union and the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, focusing on the primary objectives of reducing the threats posed by Al-Shabaab and other armed groups, enabling the handover of security responsibilities to the Somali Security Forces, and assisting them in creating a secure environment for the political process in Somalia at all levels to make meaningful achievements,” said Hon. Duale, Kenya’s Minister for Defense.

Hon. Duale addressed the impending drawdown in Somalia to hand over security responsibilities to the Somali Security Forces in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

“Under the guidance of the United Nations Security Council, there is currently an ongoing ATMIS crackdown strategy, which aims to gradually transfer security responsibilities to the Somali Security Forces under what is known as the Somali Transition Plan.”

“There is a drawdown of troops beginning April last year, and which will end in December 2024. The last troops are supposed to leave Somalia in 2024 as per the African Union and United Nations Security Council Resolution and Plan,” he added.

He noted that Somalia’s request for a ‘technical pause’ has halted the withdrawal of the African Transition Mission (ATMIS) troops in the second phase, which would have started last month.

“Already there is drawdown phase 1 of the drawdown has been completed where a total of 2000 ATMIS forces have exited including 400 from Kenya. Subsequently, phase 2 of the drawdown of the ATMIS forces which KDF is part was initially planned for September this year. We are supposed to withdraw 600 troops as KDF. However, this has technically paused awaiting the AU and UN decision on a request made by the Somali Federal Government for a three month extension,” Hon. Duale said.

The Kenyan Cabinet Secretary stated that the request for a technical pause will only succeed if the African Union, to which they have written, and the UN Security Council approve it. He noted that both ATMIS troops and the federal government are waiting for approval, and “that decision lies with those two organs,” he added.

Hon. Duale affirmed the readiness and preparedness of the troop-contributing countries to withdraw the additional 3,000 troops, including 754 KDF soldiers and the Kenya Police serving under ATMIS.

He added that the families of the Kenya Defence Forces members who were killed in the peace mission in Somalia are given 11.4 million Kenyan shillings, which is approximately $77,000, as compensation from the Kenyan government and the African Union combined.

“If the officer is serving within our country we immediately give 4 million shillings above the pension which has a component called death gratuity. But if he is serving in ATMIS like in Somalia, apart from the 4 million, the African Union and the UN give that family 50,000 USD,” he added.

In recent months, the Al-Shabaab has conducted several attacks in Kenya, mainly in villages along Boni Forest, such as Juhudi, Salama, and Withu villages in Lamu, killinh dozens of Kenya security forces and civilians.

The government of Kenya has implemented crucial measures to reduce attacks, including identifying and capturing those who provide information, transportation, and supplies for Al-Shabaab militants, as well as establishing a 42KM cutline between Boni Forest and residential areas.

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