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Amid souring relations Somalia accuses Ethiopian troops of unlawful crossings, urges respect for UN Charter

Ambassador Abukar Dahir Osman, the Permanent Representative of Somalia to the United Nations (Photo: UN)

Addis Abeba – During the United Nations Security Council briefing on 24 June, 2024, Ambassador Abukar Dahir Osman, the Permanent Representative of Somalia to the United Nations, accused Ethiopian troops of unlawfully crossings into Somalia’s borders.

Speaking about the plan to withdraw about 4000 ATMIS troops by the end of June, the ambassador stated that, “Due to disruptions by Ethiopian forces, including unilateral actions and illegal border crossings, Somalia has been forced to postpone the September transition”.

He cautioned the Council about the implications of these destabilizing actions for Somalia and the wider region, urging Ethiopia to respect the Charter of the United Nations and principles of good neighborliness by reconsidering its “memorandum of misadventure” without any further delay.

His statement followed reports that Ethiopian soldiers entered Somalia’s Hiraan region on Friday, 21 June 2024, to monitor threats from al-Shabaab but withdrew the following day.

This come in the backdrop of souring diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and Somalia in recent months following the signing on 01 January of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland, granting Ethiopia access to the sea for a leased military base in return for recognition for Somaliland.

On 31 May, Hussein Sheikh Ali, the National Security Adviser to the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, said Somalia expects all Ethiopian troops to leave the country by the end of December 2024, adding that Ethiopian troops will not be part of the post-ATMIS forces.

At least 3,000 Ethiopian soldiers are stationed in Somalia as part of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), which combats al-Shabaab, an Islamist militia that controls large portions of the country. A large number of non-ATMIS Ethiopian troops have been reportedly deployed to several parts of the country for years.

Ambassador Abukar also expressed approval for the African Union Peace and Security Council’s decision on 20 June to support the government’s request for a phased approach to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) “Phase 3 drawdown.”

This plan entails the withdrawal of 2,000 troops by the end of June and the remaining 2,000 troops by the end of September.

James Swan, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), highlighted the progress made by the Somali government, including its multifaceted efforts to defeat Al-Shabaab, which “remains determined to continue terrorist attacks with little regard for the loss of civilian life.”

He also expressed concern about the memorandum of understanding between Ethiopia and Somaliland announced on 01 January, which has created tensions in the Horn of Africa. Swan encouraged Mogadishu and Addis Abeba to resolve this matter peacefully.

Noting that the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) continues to provide logistical support to the deployed African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) forces and facilitate an orderly drawdown of departing forces, Swan stressed that financing remains a critical challenge.

He urged all partners to ensure predictable and sustainable funding for the follow-on arrangements and the necessary resources for ATMIS.

According to Swan, 5,000 ATMIS troops have left Somalia since June 2023, and further reductions are planned in the coming weeks. AS

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