28th Oct 2016

Somalia security forces to get EU training

  • The EU is already patrolling the waters off the Somali coast (Photo: Council of European Union)

Europe's foreign affairs ministers on Monday (25 January) decided to send some 100 military personnel to train Somali security forces, following a request by the transitional government in Mogadishu and amid increasing attacks from militants.

EU ministers justified the decision by expressing their "concern about the worsening security situation in Somalia and its spreading effects to neighbouring countries," according to the final conclusions of the one-day meeting in Brussels.

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The European training mission, comprising roughly 100 military personnel, will take place in Uganda, where Somali forces are already being trained by the United Nations and the US.

Somalia's transitional government last year requested international help to train some 6,000 security forces, as it struggles with attacks from militants, including on refugee camps.

The EU would train up to 2,000 soldiers when it takes up its mission, most likely in May. It also runs a naval mission – Atalanta – aimed at fighting piracy off the Somali coast and providing security to UN ships carrying food aid.

Somalia, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been scarred by civil wars and insurgencies ever since the overthrow of President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Mogadishu has seen daily attacks and fighting between government forces and the insurgents, leading to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.

Some member states, notably the Netherlands, raised the question of how the EU will ensure that the newly trained troops will not switch sides once they're back in Somalia.

In its final conclusions, EU's ministers stressed that this mission will be "part of a wider international effort and encompassing inter alia the vetting of trainees, the monitoring and mentoring of the forces once back in Mogadishu and the funding and payment of the salaries of the soldiers."

A recent report by Amnesty International called for arms transfers to the Somali government to be suspended until there are adequate safeguards to prevent weapons from being used to commit war crimes and human rights abuses.

The human rights watchdog also appealed to countries providing military and police training to integrate international humanitarian law and arms management in their programs.

A UN arms embargo on Somalia has been in place since 1992 but states can apply for exemptions to supply security assistance to the Somali government.

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