Nairobi, Kenya – The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) currently serving in the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) are set to fully withdraw from Somalia by the end of December 2024, according to Defence Minister Aden Duale’s statement to Senators. This decision adheres to the Somali Transition Plan (STP).
Since 2011, around 3,500 KDF troops have been deployed in Somalia, initially as part of Operation Linda Nchi and later joining the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which has now transitioned into ATMIS. These soldiers have been operating in Jubaland.
Duale emphasized that the KDF will not extend their stay in Somalia without authorization from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia and the United Nations. The soldiers’ salaries are funded by the African Union, with support from the European Union and other development partners.
Duale confirmed that the complete withdrawal of KDF soldiers will take place by the end of December 2024. The plan remains unchanged, and there are no intentions to prolong their stay. Already, during the first phase of withdrawal in June 2023, 400 soldiers returned home.
Alongside Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda have each withdrawn 400 soldiers, while Burundi and Djibouti have withdrawn 600 and 200 soldiers respectively. However, the second phase of withdrawal, originally scheduled for September 2023, did not occur due to a request made by Somalia to the United Nations Security Council.
Duale stated that the soldiers in Somalia have been effectively contributing to the country’s stabilization efforts. Somalia requested a temporary pause on the withdrawal process to allow for logistical preparations over the next three months. Otherwise, an additional 756 soldiers would have returned home last month. The minister chose not to disclose the exact number of casualties since 2011.
Additionally, Duale mentioned that the families of deceased soldiers receive a compensation of approximately $40,000 from the Kenyan government, with an additional $50,000 provided by the African Union and United Nations for those serving in foreign missions. Apart from Somalia, Kenya also plays an active role in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Duale expressed his belief that Somalia now has a relatively stable government and has developed a significant military force. The Somali National Forces are currently at the forefront of combating terrorism, which was not the case five or ten years ago.
“I want to assure this house that the day for al-Shabaab in Somalia and our region is coming to an end,” Duale confidently stated.