Somalia asks UN to delay peacekeeper drawdown after ‘significant setbacks’

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United Nations.

Somalia has asked the United Nations to pause a planned drawdown of 3,000 African Union (AU) peacekeepers for three months to allow its security forces time to regroup after a militant attack forced them to withdraw from several recently captured towns.

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), which is mandated by the UN Security Council, took over from another AU mission in April last year.

A Somali government letter shows the national security adviser wrote to the United Nations requesting a 90-day delay in the second phase of the African Union troop pullout.

The original plan was for the troops to leave by the end of this month.

“The Federal Government of Somalia formally requests a technical pause in the drawdown of the 3,000 African Union Transition in Somalia, ATMIS, uniformed personnel by three months,” read the letter.

A diplomatic source confirmed the authenticity of the letter and another source close to the matter confirmed the request.

AFP reached out to several Somali government officials, who did not comment.

UN resolutions call for the ATMIS force to withdraw by the end of next year, placing security operations in the hands of Somalia’s army and police.

The Horn of Africa country has been wracked by civil war and then a surge in violence by the al-Shabaab Islamist militants for more than 30 years. 

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