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EU to send Somali army trainers to Mogadishu

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Brussels (dpa) - The European Union wants to send a share of its Uganda-based military trainers for Somalia into the conflict-battered country‘s capital Mogadishu as soon as possible, the mission‘s commander said Wednesday.

"We are extremely optimistic that, in the shortest possible period, the conditions will be in place that will allow us to operate safely and securely in Mogadishu," said General Gerald Aherne.

The Irish general said the deployment depended on the availability in Mogadishu of adequate force protection, medical facilities and general support for the EU personnel.

"The security conditions in Mogadishu are challenging," Aherne said, adding, "Once the correct mitigating issues are put in place for us to work in saftey then the deployment can take place."

The contingent is to advise Somali military leaders and accompany and support around 120 local trainers. Aherne did not say how many people would be sent, simply stating that the number would be "sufficient to carry out the task."

To date, around 3,000 Somali soldiers have been trained in the western Ugandan town of Bihanga. The EU is separately running an anti-piracy naval mission off the Somali coast.

Somalia has been a site of violence for years, most recently as African Union forces, Islamist militants and warlords fought for control. Al-Shabaab militants, although on the back foot since 2011, still control vast areas of southern and central Somalia.

Elections in September, which saw the establishment of Somalia‘s first representative government in two decades, have been heralded as a "new chapter" for the country.

Later this year, the EU is to host a conference to come up with a "New Deal" for Somalia encompassing political, security and development support. dpa eb hm jln Authors: Dieter Ebeling, Helen Maguire


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