News / Africa

Somalia's Defense Minister: Nation Can't Afford Weapons

Somali government forces march during a parade to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the national army, in the capital Mogadishu, April 12, 2013.
Somali government forces march during a parade to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the national army, in the capital Mogadishu, April 12, 2013.
Reuters
Somalia's armed forces have not received "a single bullet" despite the partial lifting of a United Nations arms embargo because the East African country lacks funds, its defense minister said on Wednesday.

Somalia's new leaders aim to train and equip a professional army of about 28,000 soldiers within three years, but they are hamstrung by a lack of cash, Abdihakim Fiqi said during a trip to London to drum up donor support.

"The arms embargo was lifted almost two months ago and we haven't received a single bullet or one single AK-47 or gun. Nothing. Because of lack of resources," Fiqi told the Royal United Services Institute defense think tank in London.

The Horn of Africa nation is only just emerging from two decades of civil war, and is struggling to rebuild a country riven by clan divisions and whose infrastructure and institutions are in tatters.

A newly appointed parliament last year elected a new president, the first vote of its kind since the toppling of former military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

In recognition of the legitimacy of Somalia's new leadership, the United Nations in March partially lifted an arms embargo on Somalia, allowing it to buy light weapons.

Somali forces currently number in the low thousands, and are a poorly equipped and fragmented mixture of state troops and militias struggling to battle al Shabaab Islamist militants, who want to impose their brand of Islamic law on Somalia.

"For the last four months our soldiers are just sitting back not doing anything. Al Shabaab are fighting them, engaging them, attacking them. They are just in the defense position... due to a lack of weapons and ammunition," said Fiqi.

African Union peacekeepers have been largely responsible for pushing al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab out of the capital Mogadishu and other urban centers in the past two years, but the group is still able to launch major attacks, including a suicide bombing on Sunday that killed at least eight people.

Fiqi declined to give an estimate for the number al Shabaab fighters remaining, but said due to a lack of funding the group was mired in "leadership wrangling," and was "increasingly weakening, contained and losing ground every day."

However, al Shabaab is highly mobile, a reason why Somalia aims to build an army made up of agile light infantry units.

"Our national security stabilization plan indicates up to 28,000 soldiers within three years," said Fiqi, putting the cost of raising such an army at about $160 million.

The minister is part of a Somali delegation, including President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, that attended a conference on Somalia in London on Tuesday to drum up donor funding.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid