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ATMIS Completes Third Key Military Base Transfer to Somali Forces Amid Its Withdrawal

© Photo X / ATMIS_SomaliaATMIS handed over the Ceel Eglow Forward Operating Base in Middle Shabelle region Somalia
ATMIS handed over the Ceel Eglow Forward Operating Base in Middle Shabelle region Somalia - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 25.06.2024
The African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), mandated by the United Nations Security Council and authorized by the African Union, was launched in April 2022 to combat the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab* and provide for a "phased handover" of security responsibilities to Somali security forces.
The Ceel Eglow military camp in Somalia's Middle Shabelle region was handed over by ATMIS to the Somali National Army on Monday.
This move is part of ATMIS's third phase of troop withdrawal, which will see an additional 4,000 troops leave the East African nation by the end of June.

"I also welcome the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council [...] to strongly support the request by the Federal Government of Somalia for a phased approach to the Phase 3 Drawdown of ATMIS, with 2,000 troops departing by the end of June 2024 and the remaining 2,000 exiting at the end of September 2024," the ATMIS Head, Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson (SRCC) for Somalia, Mohamed El-Amine Souef, told the UNSC on Monday. "This request will provide the necessary time and space to address the operational demands highlighted in the Joint Technical Assessment."

According to the statement, the base, which has been manned by ATMIS Burundi troops since 2019, is essential for protecting the main supply routes between the cities of Mogadishu and Jowhar.
The African Union Peace and Security Council said earlier that the ATMIS withdrawal must be "harmonised with the follow-on mission that replaces it" in order to avoid a possible "security gap" between December 31, 2024, and January 1, 2025.
Somalia has requested a new post-ATMIS mission to serve as a force to protect the local and international community in light of security concerns.
"I urge the Council to continue its efforts in promoting strong regional and international cooperation to ensure that political, logistical and financial support for the AU-led post-ATMIS Mission is tailored to meet the existing security threats and to enhance the readiness and capacity of the Somali Security Forces to assume full security responsibilities," Souef said at the UNSC meeting. "Such an approach would advance our collective interests and further our shared goal of supporting Somalia’s Security Sector Plan, and exploring, as well as agreeing on the required funding mechanisms for a new Mission."
In total, 13 military bases were transferred to Somali forces during the first two phases of the drawdown, and 5,000 soldiers departed the East African nation.