EU delays Army refunds for fighting Al-Shabaab

A KDF soldier attached to Amisom guards the Kismayu International Airport control tower. PHOTO | FILE
A KDF soldier attached to Amisom guards the Kismayu International Airport control tower. PHOTO | FILE 

The Europe Union has since February failed to refund Kenya monies spent fighting Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia amid payment verification hitch.

Treasury documents show that Kenya received Sh4.2 billion from the UN in the first seven months of financial year to February against a claim of Sh6.4 billion, meaning the country is owed Sh2.2 billion.

The Treasury did not explain the delay, but reports in the BBC indicated that payments for the 22,000-strong African Union force (Amisom) was being withheld over “accounting issues”.

Nearly 4,000 Kenyan soldiers are part of Amisom and the international community provides $1,028 (Sh103, 828) for each Amisom soldier each month; their respective governments then deduct around $200 (Sh20, 200) for administrative costs meaning the soldiers are supposed to take home about $800 (Sh83, 628).

The soldiers receive the allowances through the government.

The refund was expected to ease budgetary constraints for a government reeling from a shortfall in revenues, delayed payment of essential services and freeze in some projects that led to net cuts to the budget of more than Sh40 billion in the year ended June.

The funds are only released to Amisom by the EU once the accounts from the previous payment are signed off.

The BBC reports indicated there have been delays over the last two tranches — and last year’s June-November payment has just arrived.

Kenya has previously faced delay in reimbursement of the money, which was linked to the UN’s insistence on verification of Kenya’s claims.

In October 2011, Kenya formally sent 4,660 soldiers to Somalia after incessant attacks and kidnapping by Al-Shabaab militants within its territory.

A year later, the UN Security Council gave Kenya the green light to join the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom), a decision that meant the Treasury would not bear the full costs of the incursion.

Amisom is an eight-year-old operation with the 22,000 troops drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya.

Kenya has in the past used its ambassador to the UN, Macharia Kamau, to demand the reimbursements, saying that failure to refund was not only “unacceptable”, but also “unsustainable”.

Amisom officials told the BBC that the late payments are having a negative impact on morale.

In the past year, four Amisom bases manned by Burundian, Ugandan, Kenyan and Ethiopian troops have been attacked.