Cash reimbursed to Kenya for its troops fighting Al-Shabaab militia in Somalia by the European Union (EU) and its partners in the first 10 months of the current financial year declined by a third amid the ongoing fight against global Covid-19 pandemic and Nairobi’s gradual withdrawal of the forces.
Latest exchequer statistics show refunds from African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) in the July 2019-April 2020 period amounted to Sh2.90 billion, a 29.51 percent drop from nearly Sh3.76 billion in the same period a year earlier.
This comes at a time resources held by key partners such as the 27-nation EU and the United Nations are being concentrated in containing the spread of the contagious coronavirus disease, which has affected more than 6.8 million globally and killed about 400,000 people.
The Treasury data shows Amisom refunds, usually disbursed quarterly, were last received in January when some Sh960 million were channelled, bringing the tally to Sh2.90 billion.
That’s nearly three times less in the corresponding period last year when Sh2.80 billion were disbursed in March 2019.
Kenya has also been withdrawing its defence forces gradually from war-torn Somalia as reflected in reduced estimates for refunds in recent years.
In the current financial year ending this month, the Treasury has budgeted for Sh4 billion, revised downwards from initial Sh5 billion, and lower than Sh4.3 billion in the fiscal year ended June 2019 and the least in at least five years.
The Federal Government of Somalia is, together with its partners, implementing the Somalia Transition Plan, backed by the UN Security Council and the African Union, aimed at transferring security responsibility to Somali National Security Forces ahead of Amisom’s planned exit in 2021.
Kenya Defence Forces, in the book titled ‘War for Peace: Kenya’s Military in the African Mission in Somalia, 2011-2020’ — published on May 8 — details reforming the Somali National Army to take charge of sustainable peace as the first pillar of the exit plan.
The second pillar is creating a “stable, peaceful and prosperous” Jubbaland, which has enjoyed relative peace amid years of civil strife in mainland Somalia. “This will involve securing routes in Jubbaland accessible to and used by al-Shabaab, including areas in Jilib, the roads to Kenyan border points (Liboi, El-Wak, Mandera, Gherille and Boni forest) and Indian Ocean ports of Ras Kamboni, Kuday, Kismayu and Barawe,” reads part of the book.
Kenya formally sent 4,660 soldiers to Somalia in October 2011 after incessant attacks and kidnapping of civilians by Al-Shabaab militants within its territory.
, numbers which have since been trimmed.
A year later, the UN Security Council gave Kenya the green light to join Amisom, a decision that meant the Treasury would not bear the full costs of the incursion.
Amisom’s soldiers are drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya, and are currently commanded by Ethiopia’s Lt Gen Tigabu Yilma Wondimhunegn.
Conservative estimates earlier showed the international community pays $1,028 (Sh109,996) for each soldier per month. Their respective governments then deduct about $200 (Sh21,400) for administrative costs, meaning the soldiers take home about $800 (Sh85,600).
The soldiers receive the funds through the Kenyan government.
The EU funds cater for allowances for the Amisom troops and police, international and local civilian staff salaries, operational costs of their offices, among others.
The United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), on the other hand, provides logistical field support to the Amisom troops and Somali National Security Forces during joint operations.