Ugandan Soldiers in Somalia not Paid for Nine Months

Soldiers under AMISOM are paid a mission allowance of $1,028
Soldiers under AMISOM are paid a mission allowance of $1,028 (about Ugandan Shs3.7m) every month. Photo shows Uganda army soldiers at a military airbase in Entebbe carrying the caskets containing the remains of Ugandan soldiers who were killed in Somalia this week, September 3, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

By Risdel Kasasira | for Daily Monitor,

Ugandan soldiers in Somalia operations have not been paid for several months, which has sparked rage and grumbling among the rank and file of the peacekeeping troops.

According to sources in African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM), the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) troops under Uganda Battle Group 14, have not received their wages for nine months.

Uganda has three Battle Groups in Somalia, including Ugabag 14, 15 and 16, whose detach in Janaale was attacked on Tuesday by al-Shabaab, who inflicted heavy casualties on the Ugandan peace troops.

For Ugandan AMISOM soldiers under Ugabag 15, which deployed in Somalia in October last year, have not been paid for five months.

The UPDF spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, confirmed the Ugandan AMISOM soldiers had not been paid but put the outstanding arrears to five months, not nine as sources told this newspaper.

Last week, while visiting Ugandan troops in Arbiska and Marka, south of Mogadishu, the deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Lt Gen Charles Angina, hinted on logistical challenges for the troops.

“I came to assess the Force’s morale and level of combat readiness in performing their duties in Amisom and United Nations Guard Force. I also came to address issues of their facilitations. There are a few challenges but these can be managed over a time. I am glad the Forces have maintained morale,” Lt Gen Angina said in a statement issued by AMISOM.

The European Union (EU) pays allowances for all AMISOM peacekeeping troops in Somalia through the African Peace Facility, while the United Nations (UN) pays for logistics, including food, transport and reimburses troop-contributing countries for tear and wear of the military hardware.

The EU releases money to AU, which channels it to troop-contributing countries to pay their soldiers. In July last year, EU released €750 million ($1 billion) to AMISOM.

Soldiers are paid a mission allowance of $1,028 every month and government deducts an administration cost of $200 meaning each soldier takes home a net of $828.

Since 2004, the EU has provided more than €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) to Somalia peace operations. Uganda has the biggest contingent of soldiers in Somalia and a number of police personnel.

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Al-Shabab Militants Seize Towns in Somalia after AU Retreat

By VOA News,

Al-Shabab militants seized two southern Somalian towns from retreating African Union forces Saturday, days after a deadly militant attack on an AU base in the same area killed dozens of Ugandan soldiers, Somali authorities said.

Lower Shabelle region Deputy Governor Abdifitah Haji Abdulle, told VOA’s Somali service that troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM, had withdrawn from a key military base at El Salindi, 60 kilometers south of Mogadishu. He also said AMISOM forces retreated Friday from the town of Kunturwarey.

A local official said he had been informed by AMISOM that the militants entered the town few hours after security forces left. He said some residents started fleeing and described others as shocked and gripped with fear that militants would kill civilians.

Separately Saturday, an AMISOM convoy was targeted with a car bomb outside the nearby town of Jannaale.

Militants said they had killed several soldiers in the attack, a claim that VOA could not verify by late Saturday. AMISOM has not commented.

But local official Abdifitah Haji Abdulle told VOA at least one civilian had been killed and three others had been wounded.

Uganda confirmed Thursday that 12 of its troops attached to AMISOM had been killed when al-Shabab militants raided an AU base in Jannaale.

Ugandan military spokesman Paddy Akunda said the attack was a “game changer” and al-Shabab should expect an “appropriate response” from Ugandan soldiers in Somalia.

In June, al-Shabab attacked another AMISOM base in the same region, killing more than 50 soldiers from Burundi.

AMISOM soldiers have been fighting al-Shabab in Somalia since 2007. AMISOM forces and Somali troops have recaptured large parts of Somalia from the al-Qaida-linked militants in recent years, but attacks have continued.