A visiting UK Minister of State for the Armed Forces Rt. Hon. Mark Lancaster has paid tribute to the AU troops in Somalia for securing the country and reducing the threat of terrorism.
The minister yesterday met with the AU Special Representative to Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira and the AMISOM Force Commander Lt. Gen. Jim Beesigye Owoyesigire, where they discussed the transitioning of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali security forces, and the nature and volume of UK support to the AU Mission.
“I have just met with Ambassador Madeira and the Force Commander. I want to start by paying tribute to the work of AMISOM over the last eleven years and indeed the sacrifices that have been made, because without doubt, unless the good work of AMISOM over the last eleven years had happened, then Somalia would not be on the course of progress that it is today,” Mr. Lancaster said.
The United Kingdom Mission Support Team (UKMST), under the UK7O project has enhanced capacity building and other support to AMISOM troops and the Somali security forces in Mogadishu and the regions, to boost the war against Al-Shabaab.
“We have discussed how potentially we can do more to support the Mission, but equally talking about how we can progress the situation here in Somalia, over the coming months and years,” added the UK minister.
The UKMST’s advice and training support to AMISOM are in the areas of logistics, medical and heavy engineering capabilities.
“We were delighted that the UK has taken so much interest in what we are doing here, that they sent a Minister of State for the Armed Forces. That visit in itself is very significant in the sense that we have a very high and senior member of the UK government with us in this battle front,” Ambassador Madeira said after his meeting with Mr. Lancaster.
He noted that AMISOM enjoys cordial relations with the UK Mission Support Team in Somalia and expressed gratitude at the support they have accorded the Mission.
“I had the opportunity through the minister to thank Her Majesty’s government for the immense support that the UK government is giving us. We have the UK 70 who are doing so much work in so many areas with us and are enabling us to be more effective on the ground. We have an entire ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) system, that they have helped to put in place and is now fully operational,” he said.
The Minister of State for Armed Forces provides oversight to Armed Forces activities including operations, force generation and international defence engagements.