The UN Security Council has on Tuesday unanimously granted approval for the phase withdrawal of ATMIS (African Union Mission in Somalia) troops from Somalia, while adopting a resolution extending its mandate by six months until December.

“The Security Council today unanimously adopted a resolution extending by six months until December the mandate for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), in support of the Government’s preparation for phase two and the Mission’s troop drawdown,” UN’s statement reads.

The resolution 2687 (2023) is aimed to expedite the development of Somalia’s sovereign capabilities, enabling the country to assume greater responsibility for security and gradually take over from ATMIS.

The Council called for a joint technical assessment by the Government of Somalia and the African Union to evaluate the first phase drawdown by August 31st. Furthermore, they requested an update by September 15th on the preparations for the second phase drawdown. The Government of Somalia was also urged to provide the Council with progress updates on the implementation of its revised national security architecture, force generation, and integration by November 30th.

Somalia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Mohamed Rabi Yusuf, acknowledged the progress made in the withdrawal process, stating, “The departure of ATMIS forces is nearly complete.”

He also emphasized the commitment of the Somali government to collaborate with the African Union in preparing for the next phase of withdrawal.

“We will make the necessary preparations with the help of the African Union for the second phase of the withdrawal of 3,000 ATMIS soldiers from the country by the end of September,” he added

The UN Security Council’s decision was backed by a majority vote on Tuesday. As part of the resolution, ATMIS troops will remain in Somalia until the end of 2023. During the period from October 1 to December 31, the mission’s troop strength will be reduced to 14,626 soldiers.

The phased withdrawal plan follows the Security Council’s earlier decision in April 2022 to replace AMISOM forces with the more empowered ATMIS troops in the fight against Al-Shabaab.

ATMIS, consisting of 19,000 soldiers and police officers, will gradually transfer security responsibilities to the Somali military, with the ultimate aim of complete withdrawal by the end of 2024.

Moreover, in the phase one of the drawdown, ATMIS forces have begun transferring military bases to the Somali National Army, marking a significant step towards greater self-reliance. Among Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) that have already been transferred are Mir-taqwo, Hajji Ali, Marka Ayoub, and Arbao, symbolizing a tangible shift in responsibility and control.

As the drawdown process continues, ATMIS forces are set to hand over additional bases, scheduled for transfer by the end of this month. These areas include Adale, Aljazeera one, and Geriley, marking further progress in the planned drawdown of international forces and the transfer of security responsibilities to the Somali National Army.

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