Limited US military assistance will resume to some Somali troops

Somali soldiers patrol Sanguuni military base south of Mogadishu, Somalia. (AFP/File)
Updated 02 July 2019

Limited US military assistance will resume to some Somali troops

  • The aid would include food, fuel and limited non-lethal equipment to a single unit of the Somali National Army
  • Somalia has been riven by civil war since 1991, when warlords overthrew a clan dictator then turned on each other

NAIROBI: The United States is resuming some assistance to a unit of the Somali military that is not working directly with US forces, US officials said on Tuesday, around 18 months after aid was suspended to such units over widespread corruption concerns.
The assistance, part of US military aid to the country aimed at helping the government fend off Islamist insurgents, was suspended in December 2017 after the Somali military was unable to account for food and fuel.
US and Somali investigators visiting bases also found far fewer soldiers than had been reported. Many of the men present were missing their guns, indicating they were not ready for active duty.
The resumption of assistance of units not working directly with US forces will be on a pilot basis, a press release from the U.S. embassy in Mogadishu said.
"On the basis of internal reforms made by the Federal Government of Somalia and an inspection of the recipient unit, the United States assesses that the Federal Government of Somalia and the SNA (Somali National Army) have undertaken significant efforts to improve accountability over donor resources," the release said.
The aid would include food, fuel and limited non-lethal equipment to a single unit of the Somali National Army, a spokeswoman for the embassy told Reuters in an email.
"The Department (of State) intends to implement a robust monitoring and verification mechanism to ensure accountability, including through the use of third-party monitors to conduct physical site inspections to confirm end-user receipt and use," she said.
The aid suspension did not affect some Somali military units, like the Special Forces group Danab that is trained directly by US forces.
Somalia has been riven by civil war since 1991, when warlords overthrew a clan dictator then turned on each other. The US also helps fund an African Union force that is supporting the weak, U.N.-backed government against Islamist insurgent group al Shabaab.


UK to deploy military to prevent migrant Channel crossings

The Royal Navy has been deployed as recently as January 2019 in an attempt to reduce the number of refugees and migrants arriving to the UK via the English Channel. (Reuters)
Updated 10 August 2020

UK to deploy military to prevent migrant Channel crossings

  • French parliamentarian called the plans a “political measure” that would not help the situation.
  • Roughly 4,000 people have made the dangerous trip from France to the UK so far this year.

LONDON: The UK has announced it will use the military to prevent migrants entering the country from France via the English Channel, but the plans have drawn criticism from French politicians and rights groups in the UK.

More than 4,000 people have successfully made the crossing so far this year, and many of those have done so in small and overburdened boats.

Responding to the escalating number of people attempting the journey, the Home Office officially requested last week that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) assist the Border Force in its duties.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said her department was “working to make this route unviable” and announced on Sunday the appointment of a former Royal Marine to manage the government’s response to the crossings.

In response to Patel’s request, the MoD announced on Monday that it would send a Royal Air Force plane with spotters on board to assist the Border Force in its operations in the English Channel.

But the issue has caused tension between the UK and France.

The French National Assembly member for Calais, Pierre-Henri Dumont, slammed the decision to use the military to prevent crossings as a useless “political measure.”

He said: “What is the British navy going to do if it sees a small boat? Is it going to shoot the boat? Is it going to enter French waters? It’s a political measure to show some kind of muscle but technically speaking it won’t change anything.”

Paris has also requested that London provides £30 million to fund French efforts to prevent migrants from attempting the dangerous crossing from their side.

Patel’s decision to use the military to prevent Channel crossings has also drawn condemnation from human rights groups.

Bella Sankey, a barrister and director of Detention Action said: “The home secretary’s hysterical plea to the navy is as irresponsible as it is ironic. Pushbacks at sea are unlawful and would threaten human lives.

“No civilised country can even consider this, let alone a country with a tradition of offering sanctuary to those fleeing persecution,” she added.

Migration has long been a hot button issue in British politics, and this will not be the first time authorities have used the military to enforce migration policies.

In January 2019, the Royal Navy sent three ships to the Channel to prevent migrant crossings, saying at the time that the deployment would “help prevent migrants from making the dangerous journey.”