EU approves launch of training mission for Somali militia Somalian Islamic militants and child-soldiers carry rifles through the streets of Mogadish

Africa | 17.11.2009
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The EU has gotten the go-ahead to launch a mission aimed at training Somali militia to fight insurgents. The move is meant to demonstrate European support for the fledgling government in Somalia.


The Somali governrnment has asked the European Union for international help to train around 6,000 troops to become the nucleus of a regular army.

Military planners were given the go-ahead to mobilize the mission, which involves the EU sending as many as 200 instructors from various European states to Uganda. They will train up to 2,000 Somali troops there.

Part of an international effort

The plan was announced at a joint meeting of the EU's foreign and defense ministers.

The training is part of a wider international effort to help stabilize Somalia's fragile transitional government, currently facing a massive rebellion by Islamic militants. The country has been without a government and an army since 1991.

France, Uganda and Djibouti have already begun their own training missions, which are estimated to be capable of training some 4,000 troops.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the training should start "before the end of next year."

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Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who chaired the talks in Brussels, said: "Today we are taking one step. I would foresee that we have a final decision before the end of the year."

Somali government must regain control

Bildt said the mission was designed to help "a country devastated by 18 years of turmoil and civil strife."

The EU is still struggling to find recruits for its 400-strong police-training mission in Afghanistan, but Swedish Defense Minister Sten Tolgfors said he though enough trainers would be found for the Somali mission.

The EU has already sent a fleet of warships to international waters off Somalia to help fight the rising tide of piracy there. But there is a growing belief that the pirates will only be stopped in the long term if the Somali government can regain control of the nation.

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