The African Union Mission in Somalia may have to concentrate more on air strikes than ground attacks in its war against Al-Shabaab militants to minimise expenses after one of its main donors reduced funding.
The European Union said it reduced the budget to the mission because of financial constraints.
On Thursday, AU officials met with Amisom partners in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to see how to avoid “duplication and waste” of functions in Somalia.
When the question of financing came up, the EU said its budget drop had been forced by realities.
The partners included representatives from the EU, the UK, France, the US, China and the United Nations.
But even with this challenge, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui said Kenya and Ethiopia accepted to use their aircraft to increase attacks against the terrorists.
“Helicopters offered by Ethiopia and Kenya to Amisom will the be game-changer; details are currently being finalised with the UN,” the Algerian diplomat said on Thursday.
THREE ATTACK HELICOPTERS
Under the 2012 UN Security Council Resolution 2036, Amisom can have up to three attack helicopters, usually from troop-contributing countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda or Burundi.
The UN then recompenses every country based on equipment used.
The announcement followed revelations by the Kenyan military that it killed Al-Shabaab senior commander in charge of intelligence, Mohammed Karatey alias “Mahat Karatey”
Karatey is said to have been killed in an airstrike earlier this week and was suspected to have been a key player in the attack on a Kenya Defence Forces camp in El Adde on January 15.
However, EU ambassador to the AU Gary Quince told the Nation that he did not expect the budget cut to affect Amisom operations even as he added that the union recommended alternative financing for the mission.
“We encourage the AU to identify other sources of funding to fill the gap. These are other international partners and AU member states,” Quince said on Friday.
As has been a tradition since 2007, EU supports Amisom — to which KDF belongs — through the African Peace Facility.
The Somalia mission meant to stabilise the government in Mogadishu and fight extremists has received €1.1 billion covering allowances for the 22,000 troops, pay for the police component, international and local civilian staff as well as operational costs of the mission’s civilian office in Nairobi.
But APF, established in 2003 to respond to an African request to support its peace and security agenda, has also been involved in security missions in other parts of the continent such as the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia and the Comoros.
“It (reduction in funding) is caused by the financial constraints on the EU African Peace Facility which funds Amisom and reflects the huge demands placed upon it to support African peace and security efforts,” the EU diplomat said.
“For example, since 2007 to the end 2015, EU provided €1.1 billion (Sh123.2 billion) to Amisom and this has depleted funding.”
From January 2016, the EU reduced financial contribution to Amisom by 20 per cent.
It means that the EU will give €20 million (Sh224 million) every month up to June. Amisom requires about $300 million (Sh30 billion) a month.
Its soldiers are paid a mission allowance of $1,028 (Sh103,828) a month with no other allowances. For a KDF soldier, the government deducts an administration fee of $200 (Sh20,200), meaning every serviceman gets $828 (Sh83,628).
Last year, EU signed a deal with AU worth €165 million for July to December 2015 to cover troop allowances, death and disability compensation for military and police personnel, international and local civilian staff salaries, operational costs of Amisom, maintenance, running costs and equipment for the Al-Jazeera Training camp in Mogadishu and Quick Impact Projects.