Tuesday April 18, 2023
By Allan Olingo
About $200 million could have been paid out in compensation to families of African Union (AU) peacekeepers killed or injured in Somalia since 2007, in what has been billed as the world’s deadliest peacekeeping mission.
More than $175 million of this has gone to compensate the families of soldiers killed on the battlefront, and a further $15 million to those injured or maimed in mission to rout Somalia-based militant group al Shabaab.
The AU has also disclosed that at least 3,500 troops from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Ethiopia have died in Somalia over the past 16 years in a bloody peace mission that has yet to achieve its intended results.
Uganda was the first country to put boots on the ground in 2007 with the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), which mutated into the African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (Atmis) in April 2022.
Speaking to Voice of America (VoA) Somali Service, Mohamed El-Amine Souef, AU Commission for Somalia Chairperson’s Special Representative Mohamed El-Amine Souef revealed the massive human losses suffered by East African troops in Somalia.
“The troops were not well prepared, and the administration was not even in Mogadishu. Many cases were not properly documented. The mission has documented around 4,000 casualties. According to officers who served in the mission, the number of casualties including the disabled could be more than 5,000,” Mr Souef told VoA.
He confirmed an estimated death toll of 3,500, noting that Burundian and Ugandan troops suffered the most casualties.
“We will prioritise the families of soldiers killed in Somalia for compensation, as some of them have not yet been recognised due to lack of funds,” he said.
According to a memorandum of understanding signed between the troop-contributing countries and the AU, $50,000 would be paid for each life lost, while the amount paid for injuries or disabilities would be determined by the degree of injury or disability suffered, as determined by the joint AU/TCC medical board, with estimates ranging from $10,000.
But some of the families have yet to receive this compensation, even as soldiers from some troop-contributing countries await payment from their respective administrations, despite the fact that the European Union (EU), the mission’s largest financier disbursed funds.
In February, it emerged that soldiers who had served in the 2018 to 2022 missions had not been fully paid even after the EU confirmed that it was up to date with its funding contributions.
Read: Who’s hoarding pay for Somalia peacekeepers?
An EU spokesperson confirmed to The EastAfrican that the first payment of support for the military component of Atmis in 2022 has been made to the African Union Commission, in line with the EU-AU Summit Declaration of February 17, 2022.
This is demonstrated by the adoption of two support measures totalling $792.2 million for African-led peace support operations through the AU under the European Peace Facility (EPF) for the period 2021-2024, a spokesperson said.
The cost of running Atmis is in the upwards of $1.5 billion annually, from around $350 million when the first troops landed in Somalia in 2007.
AU’s financials for 2021 show that the amount paid to troop-contributing countries almost tripled from $37.59 million to $100.8 million. The AU received $264.62 million from partners for peace and security missions in 2021, up from $244.3 million the previous year. EU’s support in 2021 was $116.4 million, China gave $6.4 million, Italy $1.02 million and Denmark $779,000.
The AU spent $204.62 million on peacekeeping and support operations in 2021, an increase of $8 million from the previous year. Peacekeepers’ allowances increased from $185.45 million to $197.8 million, while death and disability allowances decreased from $8.64 million in 2020, to $6.7 million.