AMISOM and Federal Government of Somalia to open up main supply routes to ease humanitarian access

Mogadishu, 4 April 2017 – Senior AMISOM officials yesterday held a meeting with the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) representatives and senior commanders of the Somali National Army (SNA) to discuss modalities of opening and securing main supply routes to help facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid to drought stricken communities in the country. The closed-door meeting, held Monday, in the Somali Capital, Mogadishu, was attended by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira; the FGS Minister of Defence, Rashid Abdullahi Mohamed; African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Osman Noor Soubagleh and the SNA Deputy Chief of Defence Forces (DCDF), Maj. Gen. Ali Bashi Mohamed. Also in attendance were AMISOM Sector Commanders and senior SNA commanders. Speaking after the meeting, Mr Mohammed said SNA will play its role to ensure humanitarian relief reaches residents affected by the drought, and hailed the plan on opening and securing the main supply routes, presented at the meeting, adding that the FGS and its security agencies will play a leading role in its implementation. “I think that the plan presented was very amazing and we do really appreciate, if it is implemented,” FGS Defense Minister said. The Minister expressed optimism about the initiative, saying it will help alleviate the humanitarian crisis and save thousands of lives. “I believe we will have a realistic outcome to support and mobilize the country and allow free movement, better protection and better access for both economic improvement and protection of the community that has been affected by the drought,” Minister Rashid stated. Ambassador Madeira echoed the Minister’s sentiments, adding that the opening and securing of main supply routes is crucial for channeling humanitarian assistance needed by thousands of residents affected by the severe drought. The SRCC lauded the move, noting that AMISOM will support the FGS secure the main roads. “The impact of opening main supply routes is so critical that we cannot wait long for its implementation. If we took one supply route for example the Mogadishu-Baidoa, if we open that supply route and make sure that the population along those routes are protected, make sure that the road is passable every day, that is a major boost to the economy, a major boost for the normalization of life and a major boost to the defeat of the Al-Shabaab,” the SRCC who is also the Head of Mission explained. Coming only days after AMISOM sector commanders concluded a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, on clearing main supply routes, yesterday’s meeting was meant to firm up the plan before its implementation. The SRCC noted that apart from delivering humanitarian assistance, the opening and securing of supply routes will have a special bearing on the ongoing efforts to stabilize and restore peace in Somalia. “We will be stabilizing the country bit by bit, taking one supply route after another and in the end the Al-Shabaab will be left just with the bush and then we will go back to the bush and take them out,” Ambassador Madeira noted. Col. Mutacho Othieno, the AMISOM Chief Operations Officer, said that the project to open and secure main supply routes will be augmented with operations to rid the country of the Al-Shabaab. “What we want to do is to clear the shoulders of these roads up to 20 meters on either side but we shall also include operations to clear Al-Shabaab remnants, 20 kilometers on each side of the roads to ensure that the movement is safe and Al-Shabaab does not lay mines and ambushes along the routes,” Col. Othieno explained.