The head of the African Union’s troubled Somalia peacekeeping force expressed frustration at the failure of countries to honour troop commitments.
Speaking in Uganda, one of only two nations to have contributed troops to the AMISOM force, Wafula Wamunyinyi said the threat posed by Islamist insurgents had been exaggerated, scaring off countries from deployments.
“We feel really frustrated and let down that several African nations have not honoured their commitment to send troops, but the media have made it difficult for them to deploy,” said Wamunyinyi, AMISOM’s acting chief.
“And nobody seems to appreciate the AMISOM has accomplished a lot,” he said at the press conference in Kampala where military chiefs and other AU officials are meeting on ways to boost the force.
AMISOM, which was first deployed to the lawless Horn of Africa nation in March 2007, currently comprises some 5,000 Burundian and Ugandan troops, well short of the intended target of 8,000.
Nigeria has said on several occasions that it had troops ready to deploy, but has not so far sent any. Ghana and Malawi committed to sending troops just after the force was deployed while Rwanda has also said it would send troops.
At least 60 peacekeepers have been killed in relentless attacks by the Islamist insurgents since they deployed.
The Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab movement, which has carried out the bulk of the attacks since a group of Islamists was forced out of Mogadishu in December 2006, were recently joined in their insurgency by the Hezb al-Islam militia.