African Union troops in Somalia facing funding shortfall
African Union troops fighting al-Qaeda-linked Islamists in the failed state
of Somalia have a $10 million funding gap which has delayed the deployment
of reinforcements and lifesaving equipment, officials said.
Senior commanders said on Saturday that the lack of cash is hampering recent
advances against the Islamists, discouraging countries from sending troops
and may have cost lives.
The shortfall comes as AU troops have taken control of the Somali capital
from the Islamist al-Shabab militia for the first time since their mission
began in 2007. Last month Kenyan troops crossed the border and opened a
second front against al-Shabab, which has been weakened by a famine in its
The AU mission had a budget of $472 million in 2011, but most of the money
is taken up by wages, transport and operational costs. Countries that
contribute troops to the force currently Uganda and Burundi are supposed to
be paid from a U.N.-administered fund for equipment like tanks, armoured
vehicles, ambulances, fuel trucks and even soap and bedding for soldiers.
The rent helps pay to replace equipment destroyed in battle or worn down by
the salty, sandy conditions. But neither Uganda nor Burundi have received
money for their equipment since March and there is no money in the fund to
pay them. So far, they are owed $10 million, said Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda,
the spokesman for the AU force. The delays in paying for equipment have also
discouraged other countries from contributing to the AU force, he said.
Burundi is supposed to send another 1,000 soldiers within weeks, and
Djibouti should send more than 800 by the end of the year. Either Uganda or
Sierra Leone should send more troops at the beginning of next year.
Uganda has also delayed sending four helicopters to Somalia because they say
there is no cash to maintain them. The AU mission currently has no air
support. Wounded soldiers had to be evacuated by road when scores of
Burundian soldiers were killed and wounded in a battle last month.
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Received on Sun Nov 13 2011 - 13:54:45 EST