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The AU has yet to secure the financing needed to implement a replacement peacekeeping program in Somalia next year, according to the organization’s Peace and Security Commissioner.

The African Union Transition Mission for Somalia (ATMIS) program is set to wrap up its two and a half year mandate in December 2024 and more than 5,000 troops have already been withdrawn but a lack of funding for a new peacekeeping program in the pipeline is an increasingly pressing worry for the AU and Commissioner Bankole Adeoye (Amb.).

“Al-Shabaab’s presence in Somalia as well as Mozambique is a grave danger to the region,” said the Commissioner during a ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of the AU Peace and Security Council at the organization’s headquarters in Addis Ababa.

He said a new mission will replace ATMIS but did not confirm who its members would be.

“We are looking for funding sources for the new program,” said Adeoye.

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The AU is already struggling to maintain ATMIS as the UN, EU, and US have ceased funding the peacekeeping mission. There is a USD 100 million funding gap in the budget leading up to the final drawdown on December 31, 2024, according to the AU.

The organization is drawing from its Crisis Reserve Facility (CRF) and member contributions to maintain the operation. More than 13,586 troops are still on the ground in Somalia as part of ATMIS, which itself is a reconfiguration of the earlier African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Ethiopian troops, along with military personnel from Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, and Djibouti, have been present in Somalia under ATMIS since April 2022, as part of the military and civilian mission that replaced AMISOM.

Despite a resurgent threat from Al-Shabaab, Mogadishu is keen to see the foreign peacekeeping mission come to an end. Last December, the Somali government asked the AU and UN to replace ATMIS with a smaller AU mission to provide strategic protection for population centers and key infrastructure. Mogadishu proposed the use of UN assessed contributions to finance the new operation.

In an interview with state media last month, Field Marshal Birhanu Jula, chief of staff for the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), predicted a fifty-fifty probability for Ethiopian involvement in the new mission of post-ATMIS.

“If we were to withdraw, the Somali government wouldn’t sustain,” said Berhanu.

But Mogadishu and Addis Ababa are also embroiled in a diplomatic spat over the MoU signed between Ethiopia and Somaliland in January.

“We reaffirm our support of the sovereignty and political integrity of all AU member states. We also reaffirm the need for both the government of Ethiopia and Somalia to work towards a peaceful solution,” said Adeoye.

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