UN pledges regular funding for troops in Somalia

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Somalia. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Somalia. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The UN has pledged regular funding for troops fighting Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, including the Kenyan army, following last year’s cuts by the European Union that threatened to scuttle the mission.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, who is on an official visit to Kenya, on Wednesday said that certain funding would strengthen the troops’ effort to restore security in the horn of Africa nation. Nearly 4,000 Kenyan soldiers are part of Amisom.

The international community provides $1,028 (Sh104, 856) for each Amisom soldier monthly.

The government then deducts about Sh20,200 for administrative costs meaning the soldiers’ monthly take-home pay is about Sh84,656.

“Amisom needs to have predictable funding for it to sustain its mission in Somalia. We are in support of this,” said the secretary-general during a joint press briefing with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House in Nairobi.

The Treasury received Sh4.2 billion from the UN in the first seven months of the 2015 financial year against a claim of Sh6.4 billion, meaning it was owed Sh2.2 billion.

It expects to receive Sh6.4 billion in the year to June 2017, but received Sh199 million in the first half of the year against a target of Sh1.6 billion.

He, however, did not indicate whether the funding will be increased or retained. “Kenyan forces have played a great role in fostering peace and security in Somalia,” he added.

In January last year, the EU cut its annual allocation to Amisom by 20 per cent, claiming budgetary constraints and that the emergence of other conflicts on the continent had thinned its Africa Peace Fund. Those cuts were to take effect from last June.

The EU then asked the African Union (AU) to demand from the UN to plug the deficit as soldiers missed part of their allowances.

Amisom is a nine-year-old operation drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya and funded by the international community.
The funds are only released to Amisom by the EU once accounts from the previous payment are signed off.

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

“This visit will further deepen the existing relations between Kenya and the UN,” said President Kenyatta.