News / Africa

AU Drive Against al-Shabab Faces Somalia’s Rainy Season

AU Special Representative Mahamet Annadiff Saleh toured AMISOM's Mogadishu base when he arrived in Mogadishu in 2012.
AU Special Representative Mahamet Annadiff Saleh toured AMISOM's Mogadishu base when he arrived in Mogadishu in 2012.
As the UN-authorized African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) continues its military offensive against al-Shabab insurgents in central Somalia, the rainy season approaches. 

Ethiopian military forces joined the AMISOM force in January, bringing troop levels for the campaign to more than 22,000 peacekeepers. The enhanced force has expelled the jihadist rebels from an estimated 10 towns and villages in that region. 

African Union special representative to the Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Mahamet Annadiff Saleh was interviewed by Timothy Donangmaye of VOA’s French to Africa language service about what lies ahead. 

The interview was conducted Wednesday in French. Ambassador Saleh is from Chad and earlier was the AU’s permanent special representative to the European Union.
 
“We want to do as much as possible before the arrival of the rainy season,” Saleh said. “We are not talking about stopping the operations. Where possible, military operations are planned so as to be continued anyway. But we will take into account the realities on the ground.”
 
When Donangmaye asked Saleh about the remaining challenges facing AMISOM, the head of mission said they need helicopters to minimize al-Shabab’s capacities. “I think that even if the rainy season arrives, the helicopters will allows us to reach a number of targets that are quite difficult."
 
Towns stripped of infrastructure
 
Saleh described devastating conditions in the communities re-taken by AMISOM forces: destroyed water wells, dismantled schools.  “We found destroyed cities and villages, no infrastructure,” he said.
 
“So it is really a challenge to rebuild the cities and villages. It really poses the challenge of providing government services.”
 
The AMISOM head of mission said they will try to offer “a bit of relief to the population” but their primary task is to secure the region militarily so that others will be able to deliver much-needed humanitarian services.
 
Delicate transition to local governance
 
A transition to new governance in these communities is a delicate question, Saleh said. 

“The government told us that it is consulting with some parliamentarians to bring people, but we don’t really like that option since people of Mogadishu might not be accepted, or they could even create other problems. 

"These people need to be managed very carefully.
 
“The government has been pro-active,” Saleh said. “They sent some ministers into these areas and we work together with them to try to have the people choose interim leaders.
 
Saled described a semi-military administration that deals with bringing order to the newly liberated communities, “but the government is doing everything in consultations we supervise in order to bring in temporary administrators,” Saleh said.
 
He assured that AMISOM and the Federal Republic of Somalia have been collaborating on the re-establishment of governance and public services.
 
Conversion of young al-Shabab recruits
 
The risk of losing ground to al-Shabab is low, he said. “Our greatest success would  be that those many young people who have been brainwashed, who have been traumatized by al-Shabab may come to realize that it is a lost war.”
 
“We are mobilizing through the Somali press, with the Elders, and with senior clan leaders so they can actually appeal to young people to abandon al-Shabab…”

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid