UN releases Sh4.9bn for Kenyan troops ahead of time

Kenyan troops in Somalia. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Kenya Defence Forces soldiers at the Kismayu port in Somalia. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

The UN has released Sh4.9 billion for Kenyan troops fighting Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia ahead of time, a rare gesture following persistent refund delays.

Treasury documents show that Kenya was expecting Sh3.5 billion by March with the early payment being a boost for the Exchequer as tax targets trail by Sh51.4 billion in the nine months.

The reimbursement is scheduled quarterly and the UN has previously failed to meet its refund targets, triggering protests from Kenya.

Reports by the BBC indicated that payments for the 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) were being withheld over “accounting issues”.

The release of the billions in the months to March comes after UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, while on an official visit to Kenya, pledged regular funding.

Mr Guterres in the March 3 meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta said regular pay would strengthen the troops’ effort to restore security in Somalia. Nearly 4,000 Kenyan soldiers are part of the Amisom.

The international community provides $1,028 (Sh103,828) for each Amisom soldier each month. Their respective governments then deduct about $200 (Sh20,200) for administrative costs, meaning the soldiers take home about $800 (Sh83,628).