Uganda was the first country to send soldiers to Somalia, spearheading the AMISOM in March 2007, to fight the a-Shabaab insurgents.Sep 14th 2020 · 2 min read
A total of 1,800 Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers have been dispatched to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The battle group, comprising both veterans (reserve force) and soldiers from the regular force, were mobilised in June last year. It is the 30th battle group to be deployed to Somalia since 2007, when the peacekeeping mission was created.
Although they were meant to be deployed in April this year, UPDF halted the exercise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking during the pass-out ceremony at the Peace Support Operation and Training Centre in Singo, Nakaseke district yesterday, the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. David Muhoozi, said AMISOM and the UPDF had since built capacity to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Explaining the suspension of activities at the peacekeeping mission, Muhoozi said: "This disease came as a new phenomenon. We neither had concrete ideas about it nor adequate capacity to manage it."
This, he added, was coupled with the lack of logistics to handle the pandemic.
However, countries have since developed capacity to produce the necessary logistics to address the problem, with procuring basics like personal protective equipment and hand sanitisers.
Uganda was the first country to send soldiers to Somalia, spearheading the AMISOM in March 2007, to fight the a-Shabaab insurgents and protect the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu.
Since then, Uganda has deployed 30 regular battle groups, as well as three other special battle groups.
Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya have since joined up and the 22,100-strong mission had 6,200 Ugandan soldiers by June, 2016.
AMISOM is an active, regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union, with the approval of the United Nations Security Council.
It is mandated to support transitional governmental structures, implement a national security plan, train the Somali security forces and to assist in creating a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Mindful of the ongoing spread of COVID-19, Muhoozi urged the soldiers to remain alert by observing the guidelines and prevention measures.
He urged them to carry on with the discipline that the previous battle groups exhibited during deployment, adding that this principle will help them excel in their mission.
Muhoozi was accompanied by Lt. Gen. Peter Elwelu, the commander of the land forces. The battle group will be commanded by Col. Jimmy Musoke.
Brig. Gen. Bonny Wolimbwa, the commandant of the training centre in Singo, expressed confidence in the battle group.
He said it has soldiers that had previously served in Somalia when the situation was more volatile.
"These soldiers had actively participated in the liberation struggle of places like Mogadishu, Masilah, Balcad, Jowhar, Afgooye, Bur-Hakaba, Marka and Barawe," he said.
On Sunday, the AU recognised a number of UPDF for their contribution towards the peace process in Somalia. AU officials said UPDF soldiers from battle group XXVII were awarded medals in recognition of their exemplary work in furthering the mandate of AMISOM.