New York City – The foreign ministers of the five African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troop contributing countries (Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda) have sent a joint letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Security Council President Ferit Hoxha expressing “strong support” for Somalia’s request to delay the drawdown of ATMIS troops by 3 months.
The letter calls for a “technical pause” in the planned drawdown of 3,000 ATMIS personnel, which Somalia formally requested in a recent letter to the Security Council. It argues the delay is necessary to address critical security challenges highlighted in a recent Joint Technical Assessment (JTA) report before proceeding to the next phase of drawdown.
The foreign ministers echo Somalia’s concerns about ensuring comprehensive security plans are in place for population centers around bases closing or handing over to Somali forces. They also cite the need to accommodate ongoing offensive operations against al-Shabaab and recent setbacks like the August attack in Galguduud.
While underscoring their commitment to the eventual full drawdown of ATMIS troops by December 2024, the ministers believe the proposed 90-day pause will provide time to devise solutions to the JTA-identified challenges and enable a smoother transition process.
The letter indicates the drawdown should proceed before the 90-day period ends if Somalia accomplishes its mandated tasks and priorities early. It also calls for international assistance in securing funding for the 3,000 delayed troops from various partners and budget lines.
The appeal for a technical pause represents the consensus view of the ATMIS troop contributing countries as Somalia continues to navigate the complex security transition process. The Security Council will now consider the request as it weighs the next steps for the UN’s role in Somalia.