SOMALIA-UGANDA: EU helps boost Somali government’s military strength
Ugandan peacekeepers in Mogadishu: The European Union is helping Somalia's transitional government by training 2,000 Somali soldiers in Uganda - file photo
KAMPALA, 5 May 2010 (IRIN) - Military trainers from the European Union (EU) in Uganda this week began instructing 2,000 soldiers from Somalia as part of the EU’s efforts to strengthen the transitional federal government’s (TFG) ability to tackle Islamist insurgents.
Col Gonzalez Elul, commander of the European Union Training Mission (EUTM), told reporters in Kampala the 12-month training - taking place in Bihanga camp, 200km west of Kampala - will produce a security force in Somalia that is both professional and sustainable.
The TFG army is plagued by indiscipline, desertions and defections - the result of a lack of training, as well as poor pay and conditions.
Besides basic military instruction the EUTM programme also includes international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, as well as the protection of civilians, including the specific protection needs of women and children.
Ali Sheikh Yassin, deputy chairman of the Mogadishu-based Elman Human Rights Organization, cautiously welcomed the inclusion of such subjects. “How it is implemented on ground is what will matter most.”
Yassin said such training should be extended to troops inside Somalia, both those in the TFG army and those, mostly Ugandan soldiers, deployed as part of an African Union force, AMISOM.
“Whether foreign or Somali, the soldiers here need the training. Protection of civilians must be number one priority,“ he added.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]