From: Ministry of Defence and James Heappey MP
Friday May 13, 2022
The Armed Forces Minister has visited key defence partners
in East Africa to discuss joint efforts to promote regional stability and build
security in Somalia.
James Heappey visited Somalia, where the UK is working with
allies from across East Africa to help the Somali state take over
responsibility for security from international forces. The UK provides
pre-deployment training for African Union (AU) troops from partner nations as
they prepare to deploy to support Somali forces in protecting civilians from
Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups under the AU Transition Mission in
Somalia (ATMIS). There are also more than 70 British troops stationed in
Somalia and UK personnel have trained nearly 1,000 Somali soldiers and
instructors to help build their capability.
Minister Heappey met with Foreign Minister Abdisaid Muse Ali
and Defence Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur to discuss the way forward for
Somalia. He also met and spoke to the British troops currently assisting with
the security sector reform in Somalia and ATMIS Force Commander Lt Gen Diomede
Ndegeya about the challenges they face.
The UN-backed ATMIS mission recently replaced the previous
African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), with a revised mandate to take the
mission forward by transferring security responsibilities to Somali forces and
The Minister also travelled to Kenya, Uganda and Burundi –
all important defence partners for the UK and major contributors to ATMIS.
Armed Forces Minister
James Heappey said:
- The UK is committed to helping to build security and
stability in Somalia and the wider region.
- It was incredibly valuable to meet with leaders from our
most important allies and partners across East Africa to discuss how we can
continue to work together to achieve our shared security goals.
The Minister for the Armed Forces met Eugene Wamalwa, the
Cabinet Secretary for Defence in Kenya, which has sent thousands of troops to
its northern border to help maintain security. Kenya has suffered cross border
terror attacks by Somali-based groups such as Al-Shabaab. Kenya is the UK’s
closest defence partner in East Africa, with UK and Kenyan forces working
closely and training together at the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK).
In his first visit to Uganda in his role as Minister for the
Armed Forces – a demonstration of the UK’s ongoing commitment to our security
partnership – Minister Heappey met with President Yoweri Museveni and Defence
Minister Vincent Ssempijja to discuss mutual security challenges and how to
promote regional stability.
Uganda is the largest troop contributor to ATMIS, with more
than 6,000 personnel currently in the country, and many Ugandan troops have
sacrificed their lives to help bring order to Somalia. UK personnel provide
pre-deployment training to Ugandan soldiers heading to Somalia, sharing
essential military skills including first aid and heavy weapons training.
Minister Heappey also became the first UK minister in five
years to visit Burundi. He met with President Evariste Ndayishimiye and Defence
Minister Ir Alain Tribert Mutabazi to discuss defence engagement activity and
their contribution to ATMIS. Roughly 4,000 Burundian troops are in Somalia, including
the ATMIS Force Commander. The minister announced a new UK training offer for
the Burundian National Defence Force comprising of English language training
and disaster relief training for BNDF officers.
He also laid a wreath at the war memorial in Bujumbura and
paid tribute to the Burundian peacekeepers who lost their lives in a recent
attack in Somalia, which killed up to 30 AU troops.