Somalia: EU governments approve Somalia training mission

Published: April 1, 2010

European Union governments said Wednesday they had given the go-ahead for a military mission to start on April 7 to train Somali forces battling an Islamist insurgency. The mission will be led by Spain and involve around 100 troops plus several dozens of additional staff.
Germany said it would contribute 20 soldiers for the mission, which will take place mainly in Uganda, where some Somali forces are already being trained. France has also committed troops and Britain is expected to participate.
The goal of the mission is to strengthen the Western-backed transitional government in Somalia.
But some EU member states have expressed concern that training its troops and providing them with guns could cause more problems than it solves without long-term commitments in place to pay them and give them institutional support.
Somalia has had no central government since 1991. Foreign governments have stepped up efforts to stabilize the country in the past three or four years, since it became a major source of piracy, with dozens of ships and crew taken hostage for ransom
Since the start of 2007, conflict in Somalia has killed 20,000 civilians and uprooted more than 1.5 million from their homes. The government is confined to a few small blocks of the capital and exerts little influence over the state.
An African Union force is on the ground protecting the government’s key institutions, but Somalia needs a larger contingent of its own capable, reliable troops.
The EU mission is expected to train around 2,000 Somali troops and complement other missions, bringing the total of better-trained Somali soldiers to around 6,000.
The EU said in a statement its mission would be conducted in coordination with Somalia’s transitional government, the African Union, the United Nations and the United States.

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